Florham Park Police Department to Run Fourth Annual Junior Police Academy

By Jonathan Garrett

The Florham Park Police Department is hosting its fourth annual Junior Police Academy this June. The Academy runs from June 24th through June 28th. The cadets must be youth entering grades six through nine in the Fall of 2024, and registration is limited to Borough of Florham Park residents and presented by Florham Park Police Officers. 

According to the Police Department, participating cadets “get the opportunity to explore various aspects of law enforcement with a curriculum developed by the police department that will emphasize qualities such as physical fitness, integrity, teamwork and respect. Activities during each week will include lessons in military drill and ceremony, physical training, school safety and self-defense.” 

Cadets get to collaborate closely with borough officers during the camp, which builds relationships between officers and residents, outside the normal day-to-day law enforcement-civilian interactions. Among the activities offered during the camp are: field trips to Newark Airport for a presentation by NY/NJ Port Authority and Florham Park Fire Department Headquarters; a formal graduation ceremony at the culmination of the week, and a final pizza party with family and friends.

Many cadets who have attended the program in the past return in later years to help as assistant instructors while earning community service hours for their respective educations. The 2024 program is limited to 40 registrants and quickly filled to capacity after it was announced. There is currently a wait list. 

When asked what are the motivations for cadets, to attend, Chief Joseph Orlando replied, “I believe the cadets hear from their friends or family members, who have previously attended, and want to be a part of the program as a result.  Some of the cadets have an underlying desire to pursue law enforcement, or emergency services, as future careers and some are motivated by the discipline and physical challenge the Junior Academy presents.”  

 

On what is most satisfying aspect of the Academy for him as Police Chief, Chief Orlando added that, “The most satisfying aspects of the Junior Police Academy, for me as the Chief of Police, are: 1) seeing the desire of our community’s children wanting to be a part of our program and learn about the profession of law enforcement from our officers; 2) attending portions of the Junior Academy and observing the cadets progress through the week, in a disciplined and team- oriented manner; and 3) interacting with the cadets and their families at graduation. Learning of the impact our officers and our program have had on our community’s youth is beyond rewarding.”

 

Some cadets express a keen interest to pursue careers in law enforcement later in life, and some of those actually pursue this. According to Chief Orlando, “We have had several cadets express a desire to pursue law enforcement as a career.  Several of our previous cadets have returned as summer interns, participated in our department through High School work study programs, as well as providing assistance with running future Junior Police Academy classes.  It’s great to see the impact we’ve had on them and their desire to return to assist our instructors.”

 

A final query to Chief Orlando enabled him to share his observations on what current police officers think of the cadets – their attitudes, diligence and willingness to apply the necessary discipline to thrive in the Junior Police Academy Program. He offered that, “As officers, we were curious about ow the cadets would respond to a simulated strict, structured environment. Naturally, on the first day of the junior academy, there are nerves and even a slight hesitation to join in our first “formation” for their initial uniform and equipment inspection. Their initial hesitation quickly turns into an energized participation that we credit to the design of the daily schedule and the effort put forward by the instructors. By the end of the week, there is a palpable sense of pride and accomplishment among the cadets, (and instructors) as they prepare for their graduation ceremony. The real reward occurs in the months to follow as the cadets return to school in September and actively seek out our officers who were involved in their academy process. The relationships built during the week are a direct result of the cadets’ dedication to the focus on the academy core values and examples by the instructors. There are high fives, smiles and excitement when we get to interact with our cadets following their academy week both in and out of the school setting.”

 

Persons wanting more information can visit the Department’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/florhamparkpd and Instagram at www.instagram.com/florhamparkpolice

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