Congratulations to the 9th year graduating class of the Passaic County Sheriff Department Police Academy Camp. Although the program has been in existence for 10 years (2002), the first graduation did not happen the first year. The program has been under the
Directorship, of Chief D'Erricho. "This program's chief purpose is to build bridges between our youth and law enforcement. We want to reinforce the positive image of the police officers that they see in their communities. We want to build a community of support for our officers along with the community. The camp operates for two weeks every August, producing two graduations during that time. Each year, letters are sent to the grammar schools of Passaic County soliciting cadets for training.
The maximum number of students in attendance is 65. The training involves: classroom instruction; drug identification and exposure; shooting range visits; practice defense driving; helicopter landing; bomb defusing techniques by Bomb Squad, Robot, and K9 dogs K9 Unit; Hand to Hand Combat; CSI and internet crime training; and oh yes, Exercise with a lot of pushups. All is offered free of charge to the youth and tax payers of Passaic County.
The funding for this program is provided by donations made to the Passaic County Sheriff Community Out-Reach Foundation. The chief commented that the best part of the program was seeing the transformation of the kids from the beginning of the program to the end. "They become little soldiers".
Head Drill Sgt., Lt. C. Mone, an officer of 25 years has worked with the program from the beginning of it conception, truly enjoys the challenge of change. "They come in and they have no idea what awaits them. I think we are definitely making a difference with these kids who will go back and share their experiences with other kids" said Mone. We spoke with the "Redman" who acts as the human punching bag during the combat end of the training. "I was only supposed to volunteer for the first year, but I'm addicted to the joy that these kids give me. I enjoy the work of changing lives.” Sheriff Richard Berdnick also took great pride in the ceremony that ends with a certificate, an ID badge and a warm handshake of appreciation from the sheriff. "To supplement any shortage in funds, the committee volunteers raise the money through fundraisers".
This year we added to our program by beginning a Special Needs camp for kids who have autism, ms, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, and other dysfunctions" said the chief. "The children for this group were cadets from the "Camp Wishes of Wayne, NJ Special Needs Camp for children of all ages. The camp is associated with the P.A.L. of Wayne, NJ. The camp runs for an 8-week period and was able to incorporate 2 days of the sheriff’s academy. Due to the physical limitations of the participants, they are excluded from certain parts of the academy training. Camp Wishes ' tuition for the cadets is based on the length of time that the child participates in the 8-week program. It has been in existence for a little less than 10 years. This is our first experience with the Jr. Academy and we are ecstatic. The kids are so excited about the interaction with the training program provided. They can't wait to get here to see the officers and the demonstrations. It's great how the program is designed to accommodate their needs" said camp supervisor, Cyndy Salerno