The Union Beach Police Department Youth Week extended into its second session between July 29-Aug.1. This is the second year the borough department has hosted the special week for children.
Last year, Police Youth Week brought out about 30 borough children between the ages of 10-13 years old. During the inaugural year of Police Youth Week, there was only one group. However, the event has more than doubled in town youths interested in taking part.
This year, the borough Police Department hosted 80 borough children, between the ages of 10-14 years old. Because of the size of the class, the children had to be broken into two groups, with the first group of about 50 children hosted at the department between July 21-25.
According to Patrolwoman Debbie Trembley, who has been on the department for 10 years, children in the program receive blocs of training from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. during the week.
Training includes, but is not limited to: "10 codes," phonetic alphabet, motor vehicle stops, "stranger danger" encounters, anti-drug information sessions, first aid, sensitivity training, and cardio pulmonary resuscitation,
According to Trembley, when surveyed, the first class from Police Youth Week responded that between 25-35 percent of the youths wanted to go onto careers in various forms of law enforcement.
Trembley said she believes some of the things children learned during Police Youth Week have relevance in many areas of life for the children.
"Yesterday was a good day and the kids learned first aid and were certified in it. I think it is great because it doesn’t matter what their age is, they can still help someone with first aid. Just because they are little kids doesn’t mean they cannot help someone in need," Trembley said.
According to Trembley, there is wide support in the department for the program. She noted that the primary coordinators for the event were Sgt. Timothy Kelly and Officer Lisa Griffin. In addition to Kelly and Griffin, also taking part in the training was: Chief Michael Kelly, Capt. Scott Woolley, Det. Chris Tuberion, Det. Michael Woodrow, Patrolman Bob Harriott, Special Officer Nick Lands, Dispatcher Jackie Shipley, Special Officer Sean Gilkenson and herself.
Trembley noted Chief Michael Kelly's strong enthusiasm for the program, and credited that as an important reason for its growing success.
Trembley confirmed that there is a strong bond of trust in town between the police and residents, and programs like Police Youth Week assist in community outreach. "This is a small community town. A lot of the officers live in town. I think the comfort zone of people growing up with each other helps to foster trust. A lot of these officers grew up here, or they went to school in Union Beach. These people here have such a strong tie to their community," she said.
Trembley said that Police Youth Week is likely to be even bigger next year, and concluded that the growing program is really the result of "some very involved and dedicated officers, a group of really wonderful parents and some really great kids."