Mercer County dignitaries and law enforcement officials from around the County gathered April 22, 2016, to celebrate the graduation of the 14th 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 51 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; seven cadets were Alternate Route trainees who attended the academy at their own expense and now can pursue employment as certified police officers.
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 14th 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, many of whom reside outside of Mercer County, and thanked them for choosing to serve and protect the public.
“Our society depends on a thing called the Thin Blue Line,” Mr. Hughes said. “The Thin Blue Line is made up of men and women who are willing and able and ready to devote their time and effort – their lives – to keeping the peace within our communities. And for that I want to thank each and every one of the cadets sitting in front of me here today.”
Alex Kaufmann, a Hopewell resident who will join the Princeton Police Department, was chosen by his fellow graduates as class speaker. He said that he and his classmates persevered through 21 weeks of training to answer a call: their desire to help others in need.
“When you need help, we will come,” he said. “When you or someone beside you are ill, we will aid. When you’re lost or forgotten, we will find you. When there is danger, we will go to it. When there is the unknown, we will push forward. And when you need us, we will be there.”
Also addressing the class were Agent Stephen A. Notta, Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office; acting Police Academy Director Brian D. Amantia; acting Mercer County Prosecutor Angelo Onofri; Mercer County Sheriff John A. Kemler; West Windsor Police Chief Joseph Pica Jr., president of the Mercer County Chiefs of Police Association; and MCCC President Dr. Jianping Wang. Also in attendance were state Sen. Shirley Turner and Assemblywoman Liz Muoio from New Jersey’s 15th Legislative District, and Freeholders Ann Cannon, Anthony Carabelli and Pasquale “Pat” Colavita.
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. Karl Kelly II, who is joining the Ewing 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. Griffin Sydorko, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, received the academic award; Jonathan Myzie, Princeton Police Department, received the firearms qualification award; Kale Mabey, Jackson Police Department, and Toni Mahotiere, Princeton Police Department, shared the physical training award; and Nicholas Sidotti, North Brunswick 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 academy is open to both Mercer County and non-County residents.
Congratulations to all graduates! The following is a list of the graduates, their hometowns, and the law enforcement agency each will join:
Nicole Andrews of Linden, Linden Police Department; Dagoberto Arteaga of Flemington, Hunterdon County Sheriff’s Office; Ashley Bryan of North Brunswick, North Brunswick Police Department; Piotr Bystrek of Lawrenceville, Lawrence Police Department; Antonio Centeno of Perth Amboy, Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office; Liz Centeno of Pennsauken, Burlington County Sheriff’s Office; Derek Daulton of Marlboro, Alternate Route; Chris DeAngelo of Ewing, Ewing Police Department; Joseph DiLissio of Hamilton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Thomas Fazio of Perth Amboy, Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office; Christopher Fernandez of North Brunswick, North Brunswick Police Department; Dominick Fiore of Marlboro, Alternate Route; Cornelius Flemming of Lambertville, Alternate Route; Corey Fornarotto of Ewing, Ewing Police Department; Rene Gordon of North Brunswick, North Brunswick Police Department; Christopher Grossmick of Mount Laurel, Mount Laurel Police Department; Michael Gulden of Browns Mills, New Jersey State Park Police; Shareef Hardin of Lawrenceville, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Shane Hickey of Lawrenceville, Lawrence Police Department; Brian Hollenbach of Hillsborough, Hillsborough Police Department; Nicholas Jones of Ewing, Alternate Route; Alex Kaufmann of Hopewell, Princeton Police Department; Karl Kelly of Ewing, Ewing Police Department; Ashley Kophamel of Piscataway, Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office; Richard Lamont of Lawrenceville, Lawrence Police Department; Andre Lee of Hamilton, Princeton Police Department; Laura Lemay of Mount Laurel, Mount Laurel Police Department; Kale Mabey of Jackson, Jackson Police Department; Toni Mahotiere of Belleville, Princeton Police Department; Michael Mancino of Hamilton, Hamilton Police Division; David Massi of Hamilton, Alternate Route; Justin Mura of Hamilton, Hamilton Police Division; Jonathan Myzie of Franklin, Princeton Police Department; Jake O’Brien of Monroe, Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office; Christian Paone of Piscataway, Middlesex County Sheriff’s Office; Kevin Perkins of Hamilton, Hamilton Police Division; Jesse Peterson of Branchburg, Montgomery Police Department; Brian Popovich of Hamilton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Tiffany Reed of Tabernacle, College of New Jersey Police Department; Alfonso Robles of Hamilton, Alternate Route; Wilfredo Rosado of Ewing, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Amanda Rossi of Hamilton, Hunterdon County Sheriff’s Office; Michael Sheridan of Mount Laurel, Mount Laurel Police Department; Nicholas Sidotti of North Brunswick, North Brunswick Police Department; Cagney Smith of North Brunswick, North Brunswick Police Department; Kyle Stybe of Jackson, Jackson Police Department; Griffin Sydorko of Hamilton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Lauren Tredo of Bayonne, Rutgers University Police Department; Carly Valentino of New Brunswick, Hillsborough Police Department; Philip T. Waid of Edison, Rutgers University Police Department; and Joseph Zucchero of Hamilton, Alternate Route.
Photo caption: Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes addresses the gathering during graduation exercises for the Mercer Police Academy’s 14th basic class of police officers on April 22.