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Summit Police Youth Academy Graduates Class of 2010

23 recruits spent one week trying out the life of a police officer.

"Class, you ready for graduation?"

"Sir, yes sir!"

That was how Friday evening's Summit Police Youth Academy began.  Then, in a straight line, in perfect unison, 22 boys and girls marched to their places in the municipal courtroom.

The "recruits" then led parents, siblings, and members of the community in the Pledge of Allegiance.  After they sat down, a slideshow gave attendees an idea of what the recruits had been up to all week.

Slides showed an enjoyable, engaging, and tough week of police work.  It showed the kids doing push-ups and sit-ups, processing a crime scene, practicing self-defense, working with the K-9 unit and Emergency Response Team, and issuing traffic citations to police officers.  Drawing the most laughs, there were also pictures of the kids driving golf carts through a course set up at the high school in which cones were flying left and right.

"You come in with just a bunch of strange faces, but over the week you realize that each brings their own strengths and weaknesses with them," said Officer Gerald McDermott.  "All they need is a little encouragement to utilize those strengths.  We work on building their confidence.  You build up their confidence a little bit, and you show them what they're capable of and they give back that much more.  It really is great working with them."

Summit Police Chief Robert Lucid addressed the parents and graduates.  He referred to this class as being one of the best to ever go through the program.

"It means a great deal and is an extraordinary opportunity for us," said Lucid. "As you can see we have siblings, the younger brothers and sisters of older kids, obviously the program met a need in our community.  Children get a great deal out of it because it gives them an opportunity to not only explore something that they might not have ever done but it gives them a very disciplined approach.  The officers get a great deal out of it.  They feel that it's one of the best opportunities they have to interact with young people throughout the year.  So it's win-win for both.

Mayor Jordan Glatt was also on hand to speak.  Glatt, whose job it is to swear in police officers, told the recruits that he would be honored to attend any and all of their swearing ins should any choose to become police officers in the future.

"The idea of getting our youth involved with our police is that hopefully they will be ambassadors with other kids and realize police are their friends," said Glatt, who also said that he would miss hearing the kids. "When they practice at City Hall they're screaming and doing their chants.  It's fun to hear.  It adds some levity in the building."

Councilman Michael Vernotico, the Chair of the Public Safety Committee, spoke glowingly of the program.  He said that the program is a favorite of his, and encouraged the recruits to continue to make good decisions throughout their lives.

One by one the recruits were called up to receive their certificates of completion.  Each recruit shook hands with Mayor Glatt and Councilman Vernotico then saluted Chief Lucid before returning to their seat.

Then the officers who had been involved with the program all this last week presented special awards to several recruits who had stood out among their peers.  Officer Paul Santos presented the Drill and Ceremony Award to Matthew Stern and the Physical Agility Award to Nicholas Della Sala for  receiving the highest total score in the physical agility test.

"We like to try and give them a little idea of what it's like to go through the police academy," said Santos. "We like to mix it up with fun activities, and give them a little discipline.  You'd be surprised that the one thing we always get is they want more discipline and more push-ups."

Sergeant Andrew Bartolotti presented the Crime Scene Processing Awards.  Squad 2 received the team award for their work in collecting evidence efficiently and professionally as well as working out the "crime" that had occurred and "testifying" at the trial.  Britton Donatacci was awarded the Crime Scene Leadership award for his conduct.

Officer McDermott spoke next and gave attendees some insight into how the kids had earned the nicknames they were given.  One young man was referred to simply as "Grillmaster."  The nickname became clear when he began doing push-ups and, rather than counting, started calling out the names of foods he liked to grill.

Grillmaster was not the only nickname to be divulged.  Lucy Woodward earned herself the nickname "Dateline" for constantly asking questions.  McDermott joked that he was sure she would grow up to become an investigative journalist.  Woodward joined the program after hearing good things about it, and also because she babysits and wanted to be ready for anything.

"I really like driving in the golf carts," said Woodward. "They set up cones in the high school parking lot.  The first time we went through with an instructor, the second time we went by ourselves, and the third time they timed us.  I had a lot of fun; I would like to do it again."

Molly Humphries or "Pet Detective" earned her nickname when she told the group about her love for animals.  Her instructors fostered that love, and gave her the opportunity to see how she might translate it into a career.

"Over the week, Officer McDermott and I had little chats about animals and I also helped out with the K-9 demonstration," said Humphries, who said the her favorite memories were the unarmed combat and the K-9 demonstration. "I might want to be a K-9 officer or a mounted cop when I grow up."

Officer McDermott finished up his address with the presentation of the final two awards.  The Best Driver Award was given to Kyle Klaschka for his performance behind the wheel.  The highest honor, the Merit Award, was given to the youngest recruit, Trevor Donatacci, whose older brother was mentioned as being a huge influence on his younger brother's good attitude.

"It feels really good," said Donatacci, whose favorite memory was the day at the Police Academy. "I had a really fun time and I can't wait to do it next year.  [My big brother] does pick on me, but he does help me and he keeps me in line."

The Summit Police will run a second Youth Academy from August 16 to August 20.  The program will be with a new group of kids, and will be just like the one run this week.

The Graduates

  • Joey Abruzzo

  • Anthony Andrade

  • Patrick Bauer

  • David Bonomo

  • Allison Daney

  • Brooke Daney

  • Seamus Degan

  • Alexandra Della Sala

  • Nicholas Della Sala

  • Trevor Donatacci

  • Vincent Donatacci

  • Arben Geci

  • Paul Guagliardo, II

  • Molly Humphries

  • Brendan Kaelin

  • Kyle Klaschka

  • Peter Michalopoulos

  • Steven Quiros

  • Matthew Stern

  • Luke Sutton

  • Alejandro Vargas

  • Evan Vecchia

  • Jack Wagner

  • Lucy Woodward

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