Township Marine Recruit Looks To FTPD Sergeant As Mentor

U.S. Marine recruit Daniel DeAngelis, left, credits FTPD Sgt. Ariel Almora with turning his life around.

Franklin Township Police Sergeant Ariel Almora has been acting as a drill instructor in the Somerset County and FTPD youth police academies for years.

Although he deals with dozens of young men and women in those sessions, he said he’s never sure if he’s made an impact on them.

But every now and then, a Daniel DeAngelis comes along.

DeAngelis, who is now undergoing combat training with the U.S. Marines, credits Almora and the youth academy program for turning his life around.

“He would sit down with us, and I remember he gave us his work phone number one day and he told us the story of some kid from Immaculata who he helped out in a time of trouble,” DeAngelis said during a meeting with Almora at FTPD headquarters on Sept. 29. “I was a sophomore at Immaculata, that clicked with me. That made me inspired, he was concerned about us.”

DeAngelis said he started attending the youth police academies while in high school because he’s harbored a desire to go into law enforcement.

After interacting with Almora, he said, he decided the best way to do that would be as his mentor did, through the Marines.

Almora, a native of Cuba who emigrated to the U.S. with his mother and sister when he was 3 years old, spent seven years in the Marines in the mid-1990s and early 2000s.

DeAngelis ran into some academic trouble in his later years at Immaculata, so his mother, Sharon, called Almora and set up a meeting between the two.

“I said absolutely, come on over and we’ll have a conversation,” Almora said.

“I shared with him my upbringing, my Mom’s struggles to try to provide for her two children, and how everything that happened, happened for a reason,” he said. “It set me on the path of life that I took.”

“Seeing my Mom work as hard as she did and seeing my sister work as hard as she did, at the time I didn’t appreciate it, but as I grew and I made the decision to uproot myself from the only thing I knew and join the Marines, I didn’t know that it would become the best decision I made in my life,” he said. “We shared that during that conversation.”

“He talked with me about his problems in high school and how he dealt with that, and his childhood and problems, and I was inspired by that,” DeAngelis said of the conversation.

Sharon DeAngelis said she was shocked when her son told her he was going to meet with Marine recruiters.

“One day I’m sitting at home and Daniel says, Mom, you have to move your car,” she said. “I said, why, he said I have an interview with the Marine recruiting office in Somerville. I’m like, what?”

Daniel signed up on Sept. 11, 2018 and reported for duty at the end of June, a month after having graduated from Immaculata.

Almora said he was “humbled” by the impact he’s had on DeAngelis’s life.

“I’m very pleased that I made a positive impact on someone’s life,” he said. “I never thought that my words would echo that deeply.”

“It’s good to feel that you come across and make a positive impact,” he said.

FTPD Chief John Fodor said DeAngelis’s story shows how police officers can affect lives.

“Police officers are in a unique position to affect people’s lives every day,” he said in a statement. “Sgt. Almora’s actions are just one example of the impact that our officers’ can have on the community. I am proud of the path that Daniel has chosen and the life of service that he has begun.”

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