20th Annual Sheriff Youth Week Preps Teens for Law Enforcement
The free program offered to Monmouth County teenagers has grown exponentially since its inception in 1992.
The Monmouth County Police Academy’s Sheriff Youth Week program, in its 20th year, is currently training the largest class in its history. The 112 recruits are spending this week with Monmouth County police volunteers who are offering up their time to teach high school students about law enforcement through lessons, drills, exercise, and training akin to what would be expected at a police academy.
The recruits arrive every morning at 7:45 a.m. for drill, engage in physical training every afternoon, and are taught about law enforcement in the interim. Some of the instruction they receive is about emergency management, crime scene investigation, gang awareness, firearms safety, information about corrections and parole, and an overview of various law enforcement careers and agencies such as NCIS, US Marshals, CERT, and the National Park Service.
Participants in this program must be high school students from Monmouth County who have an interest in law enforcement. Sheriff Youth Week is free and all uniforms are provided by New Jersey Gravel & Sand Company, a business out of Wall who sponsors the program, Undersherriff and Sheriff Youth Week Director Ted Freeman said. Students from both Matawan and Aberdeen participated in the camp.
This is the first year that the program has used another facility besides the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office and on Wednesday recruits were at Neptune High School to utilize the resources the school had to offer including a ropes course, a rock wall, a pool where students learned water safety and a track where students were challenged to a 5K.
“We’re excited here in Neptune because we formed a partnership with Superintendent Dave Mooij from Neptune Township Schools and they’ve been a tremendous partner for the last couple years in assisting us in recruiting some individuals to come up to the police academy,” Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden said.
This year, Mooij brought more to the table by offering Neptune High School’s facilities for use by the recruits, which Golden said he gladly rolled in to the program. “It’s been a success, the kids are really having fun today,” Golden continued.
Golden said that alums of Sheriff Youth Week have gone on to become firefighters, dispatchers, EMT officers or police officers and have gone through the Monmouth County Police Academy, something which he is very proud of. Also, many of the current recruits have already participated in the program once or twice before.
Thomas Fatigante, 17, of Brick Township, is going through the program for the third year in a row. Fatigante has been inspired by his father, a former Monmouth County police officer, to become a cop. The fact that the program preps you for a police academy by giving the recruits a taste of academy training is something Fatigante said he appreciates, as well as the structure of the program and the responsibility it teaches the students.
Rick, Mary, Nicholas, and Philip Kenny, 13-year-old quadruplets from Manalapan Township, are all participating in the program this year. Rick is the most curious about law enforcement, while his siblings decided to try out the program to see what is really involved.
“It’s a good place to get in shape for the new school year and learn discipline,” Nicholas said, a sentiment which his siblings echoed. They said that the classes were informative and compelling and that the whole experience has been an informative one.
The rigorous schedule and discipline is not for everyone and some recruits drop out as the week goes on, but the ones who last are proud of their accomplishment. “They really have a sense of pride and accomplishment when they finish,” Golden said.
Sheriff Youth Week formal graduation will be held at the Monmouth County Police Academy, located at 2000 Kozloski Rd. in Freehold on Friday, July 13 at 9:30 a.m.