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New Jersey State Police graduates most racially diverse class

Photo Credit: John O’Boyle/The Star-Ledger (courtesy NJ.com

SHOUT OUT: The most racially diverse class in New Jersey State Police history — 54% of it minorities — was graduated today at Elizabeth High School.

The 153rd class, the second to be graduated this year, “represents a major step forward in our continuing effort to develop and maintain a State Police force that reflects the diverse population it serves,” Gov. Christie said.

“That is critical because the State Police is the most visible symbol of law enforcement throughout New Jersey, and every individual trooper who puts on the uniform is recognized as a leader — on the road, in his or her neighborhood and in the community at large,” Christie said.

Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman and Col. Rick Fuentes, the NJSP superintendent, presented badges to the 118 probationary troopers, will be assigned to stations throughout the state over the next 11 weeks, mentored by trooper-coaches and supervisors. A full 25% are Hispanic and 16% African-American.

There are also six Asians and one American Indian,  along with 29 Hispanics and 19 African-Americans.

Five of the troopers are women.

They join 91 troopers who were graduated in October.

“The difference between mediocrity and excellence for any organization is not just equipment or facilities – it is about people,” Hoffman told them. “And that is where you, the graduates of the 153rd State Police class, come in.

“As of today, the continued success of the State Police mission is in your hands. You are the organization’s future, and your dedication and professionalism will determine its success,” Hoffman said.

Fuentes told the group that they’ll be required to “hit the ground running.”

“The life of a New Jersey state trooper can be demanding, but in return you will be rewarded knowing that you are protecting and serving our citizens,” he said. “As you wear the blue and gold uniform, you will realize, just as every trooper has before you, that being a trooper is more than a job.

“It is now part of who you are.”

Of those graduating, 74% have Bachelor’s degrees or higher; 42% played college sports; 16% have prior military service — and several have previous law enforcement or emergency management experience, the NJSP said.

“The 118 men and women of the 153rd Class entered on day one as individuals, and are now leaving as a unified team,” said Academy Commander Julian Castellanos. “They successfully completed the transformation from civilian to highly-skilled law enforcement professional, and are ready to begin their careers as protectors of the citizens of New Jersey.”

While this class was in the academy, seven recruits had family members die, three were married, and three had children.

Still, the NJSP said, “they maintained their focus and concentrated on their training” — 24 weeks of exhaustive classroom and physical work at the State Police academy in Seat Girt.

That included role-playing exercises focused on domestic violence situations, human dignity, and cultural diversity, with which outside representatives of various ethnic, cultural, community, and professional organizations helped.

Each NJSP applicant is required to have a bachelor’s degree or, alternatively, a minimum of 60 college credits, plus two years of work experience.

PHOTO: John O’Boyle/The Star-Ledger (courtesy NJ.com )

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