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Self-Respect, Teamwork: Apply For Free Bergen Youth Police Academy

Photo Credit: CLIFFVIEW PILOT file photo

HACKENSACK, N.J. -- It seemed a pie-in-the-sky idea when its creators first pitched it more than a dozen years ago, but a free Bergen County youth police academy at which teens can learn honor, respect and commitment is accepting applications for its 13th class.

Paid for with funds forfeited by criminals, the free two-week “day camp” is open to qualified Bergen County high school students entering the 9th, 10th , 11th and 12th grades.

It will run Monday through Friday from June 26 through July 7.

“This is a unique opportunity for young people to focus on strengthening their life skills of self-respect, respect of others, teamwork, and commitment to one’s goals,” Bergen County Prosecutor Gurbir S. Grewal said.

Designed by law enforcement professionals, the program “provides high school students with a real understanding of what police academy cadets experience,” Grewal said.

It’s staffed by members of the county sheriff’s and prosecutor’s offices and aims to educate youngsters about public service -- including county government, the judiciary, emergency services and law enforcement.

The curriculum relies heavily on hands-on, interactive educational and physical training. Daily programs include presentations from educators, interaction with county agencies, and field trips.

And although the program will be based at the Bergen County Law and Public Safety Institute at 281 Campgaw Road in Mahwah, teens will be able to report to the Bergen County Jail, 160 River Street in Hackensack, where buses will take them back and forth.

If things are switched up, parents will be notified in advance.

Exact times will be explained to parents at a mandatory meeting before the academy begins. One thing they will stress is that cadets be early for the buses from the jail. These will pull out on time whether everyone’s there or not.

The academy will provide daily lunches, a t-shirt and shorts for each cadet. Any cadet who doesn’t follow the rules is dismissed.

Then comes graduation, with an official ceremony.

Application forms are available at local high schools, police departments or online at www.BCPO.net (click the “Resources” tab).

DEADLINE to apply: Friday, April 14. Space is limited.

MORE INFO: Contact the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office Community Outreach Unit at (201) 226-5509 or mparenta@bcpo.net .

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