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Mercer County dignitaries and law enforcement officials from around the County gathered April 21, 2017, to celebrate the graduation of the 16th basic class of police officers from the Mercer Police Academy.

An audience of several hundred family members, friends, and members of a number of law enforcement agencies saw the class of 32 cadets receive graduation certificates to officially make them police officers.

The commencement was held inside the gymnasium at Mercer County Community College (MCCC). Many cadets wore the uniforms of the respective law enforcement agency each will join; one cadet was an Alternate Route trainee who attended the academy at his own expense and now can pursue employment as a certified police officer.

The graduates endured 21 weeks of training at the academy in all aspects of law enforcement and will now serve in many different Police Departments within Mercer County and elsewhere (see complete list below). The cadets are the 16th police class of the Academy, which was created in October 2006 and provides a facility and resources to train law enforcement recruits in Mercer County. The academy is located on the grounds of MCCC.

Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes offered his congratulations to the graduates, and told the gathering that the class members had proved themselves worthy of the uniforms they’d be wearing.

“Their careers will be fulfilling,” he said. “They will be respected by their friends and neighbors, and they will be known as the first ones that head toward danger, not away from it. That proves a special quality that we all know many don’t possess.”

Jeffrey Puckett, a Dunellen resident who will join the Plainsboro Township Police Department, was chosen by his fellow graduates as class speaker. He said the Academy has prepared him and his classmates to handle any situation.

“Our class plaque reads, ‘The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing,’” he said. “Thirty-two officers stand before you today ready to take action for the greater good. Whenever our time comes, we will not stand by and let evil triumph.”

Also addressing the class were Agent Stephen A. Notta, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office; Police Academy Director Martin P. Masseroni; First Assistant Prosecutor Doris Galuchie; Mercer County Undersheriff Pedro Medina; West Windsor Police Chief Joseph M. Pica Jr., president of the Mercer County Chiefs of Police Association; and Dr. Jianping Wang, president of MCCC. Also in attendance were Freeholders Ann Cannon and Pasquale Colavita, and Trenton Mayor Eric Jackson.

During training, the class studied in disciplines such as use of force, firearms, vehicle pursuit, hostage negotiation, advanced crime scene processing, and domestic violence prevention, among others. Several cadets received awards at the graduation ceremony for their excellence in training. Michael Cipriano Jr., who is joining the Trenton Police Department, was chosen by his classmates to receive the Certificate of Merit awarded by the N.J. Police Training Commission to the best all-around graduate. Ryan Lawlor, Trenton Police Department, receive the academic award; Steven Demko, Christopher Foley and Jeffrey Vetter, all Trenton Police Department, shared the firearms qualification award with perfect scores; Jeffrey Puckett, Plainsboro Township Police Department, and Dallas Overko, Washington Township Police Department, shared the physical training award; and Christopher Tremel, Washington Township Police Department, received the emergency vehicle operations award.

The Mercer Police Academy consists of two classrooms specially designed for the needs of law enforcement training, and recruits use MCCC grounds, its library and its gymnasium for training purposes. The campus includes a padded training room that is used for “defensive tactics” classes. A shooting range in Hopewell Township operated by the prosecutor’s office is part of the academy as well.

The following is a list of the graduates, their hometowns, and the law enforcement agency each will join:

Patrick Blaydes of North Brunswick, Rutgers University Police Department; Cody Braddock of Ewing, Trenton Police Department; Matthew Bullman of Flemington, Hunterdon County Sheriff’s Office; Bradley Caruso Jr. of Mount Laurel, Burlington City Police Department; Jessica Chilmonik of Holland Township, Hunterdon County Sheriff’s Office; Michael Cipriano Jr. of Trenton, Trenton Police Department; Sean Cruz of Ewing, Trenton Police Department; Jesse Cvecich of Stockton, Hunterdon County Sheriff’s Office; Paul Daniels Jr. of Trenton, Trenton Police Department; Steven Demko of Hamilton, Trenton Police Department; Tomasz Duda of Hamilton, Trenton Police Department; Christopher Foley of Mercerville, Trenton Police Department; Robert Furman III of Hamilton, Trenton Police Department; Rodney Harris Jr. of South River, Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office; Jeffrey Herrmann of Maple Shade, Mount Laurel Police Department; Ryan Lawlor of Hamilton, Trenton Police Department; Robert Mattei of North Brunswick, North Brunswick Township Police Department; Phillip Nguyen of Piscataway, Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office; Sonia Noriega of Lambertville, Hunterdon County Sheriff’s Office; Dallas Overko of Hope, Washington Township Police Department; Jeffrey Puckett of Dunellen, Plainsboro Township Police Department; Chelsea Quinlan of Hamilton, Trenton Police Department; Nicholas Recchia of Hamilton, Hamilton Township Police Division; Craig Rich of Hamilton, Trenton Police Department; Gabriela Rodriguez of Trenton, Trenton Police Department; John Rose of Robbinsville, Trenton Police Department; Frank Stefano of Maywood, Alternate Route; Troy Sudeck of Hamilton, Montgomery Township Police Department; Elisha Tard of Trenton, Princeton University Public Safety Department; Christopher Tremel of Randolph, Washington Township Police Department; Jeffrey Vetter of Hopewell, Trenton Police Department; and Timothy Wallace of Trenton, Trenton Police Department.

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