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WEST WINDSOR, N.J. - Mercer County dignitaries and law enforcement officials from around the County gathered Jan. 6, 2014, to celebrate the graduation of the 10th basic class of police officers from the Mercer Police Academy.

An audience of more than 350 family members, friends, and members of a number of law enforcement agencies witnessed the class of 39 cadets receive graduation certificates to officially make them police officers.

The commencement was held inside Kelsey Theatre at Mercer County Community College and featured the cadets proudly wearing the uniforms of the respective law enforcement agency each will join.

The graduates endured 22 weeks of training at the academy in all aspects of law enforcement and will now serve in many different Police Departments within Mercer County and elsewhere (see complete list below). The cadets are the 10th police class of the Academy, which was created in October 2006 and provides a facility and resources to train law enforcement recruits within Mercer County. The academy is located on the grounds of Mercer County Community College.

Academy Director Al Paglione offered his congratulations to the graduates, many who reside outside the Mercer County area, and spoke about the Academy’s role in preparing the class for careers in law enforcement.

“The training that each recruit receives at this academy will enable them to think for themselves with little time to question the reason for action,” Paglione said. “They’ll have to handle life-and-death issues and be flexible enough to handle each situation with the problem-solving skills that are needed in today’s diverse cultural environment.”

Christopher Miranda, a graduate who will join the Perth Amboy Police Department, chosen by his fellow graduates as class speaker, said his class’s high level of dedication and commitment, along with the guidance provided by the Academy instructors, has the graduates well prepared for what lies ahead.

“We look forward to starting our careers and proving ourselves as competent law enforcement officers to each of you,” he said.

Also addressing the class were Mercer County Prosecutor Joseph L. Bocchini Jr.; Mercer County Undersheriff James Freeman; West Windsor Police Chief Joseph Pica Jr., president of the Mercer County Chiefs of Police Association; and Samuel Plumeri Jr., vice chairman of the New Jersey State Parole Board.

During training, the class studied in disciplines such as use of force, firearms, vehicle pursuit, hostage negotiation, advanced crime scene processing, and domestic violence prevention, among others. Several cadets received awards at the graduation ceremony for their excellence in training. James Steimle, who is joining the Lawrence Township Police Department, was chosen by his classmates for the merit award from the N.J. Police Training Commission as the best all-around graduate, and also received the firearms qualification award and the emergency vehicle operations award; Robert Voorhees, Hopewell Township Police Department, received the academic achievement award; Aneudy Alfonso, Perth Amboy Police Department, received the physical training award; and Michael Bernhardt, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office, and Jordan Kostoplis, Hamilton Township Police Department, joined Officer Steimle in receiving the firearms qualification award.

The Mercer Police Academy consists of two classrooms specially designed for the needs of law enforcement training and recruits use MCCC grounds, its library, and its gymnasium for training purposes. The campus includes a padded training room that is used for “defensive tactics” classes. A shooting range in Hopewell Township operated by the prosecutor’s office is part of the academy as well.

The Academy is open to both Mercer County and non-County residents.

The following is a list of the graduates, their hometowns, and the law enforcement agency each will join:
Jonathan Abraham of Hamilton, Fieldsboro Police Department; Aneudy A. Alfonso of Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy Police Department; Jorge Arocho of Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy Police Department; Michael W. Bernhardt of Hamilton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Nicholas R. Botteri of Hamilton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Scott E. Bucca of Hamilton, South Brunswick Police Department; Juan Correa Jr. of Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy Police Department; Alvah M. Cox III of Sayreville, Raritan Township Police Department; Carmen G. Cruz of Trenton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Colin J. DeVincenzo of West Windsor, Hunterdon County Sheriff’s Office;  Nicholas A. Gordon of Hamilton, Hamilton Township Police Department; Christopher M. Harhay of Hamilton, Hamilton Township Police Department; Justin L. Henson of Hamilton, Hamilton Township Police Department; Jordan D. Kostoplis of Hamilton, Hamilton Township Police Department; Mario P. Lanzetta of Hightstown, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Christopher  W.  Magee-Vanderveen of Hamilton, South Brunswick Police Department; Brian T. Mandelko of Hamilton, Hamilton Township Police Department; Gary J. Mattia Jr. of Hamilton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Jessica Meyer of Bordentown Township, Bordentown Township Police Department; Christopher J. Miranda of Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy Police Department; Steven Morillo-Collado of Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy Police Department; Sean F. Napierkowski of Robbinsville, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Steven G. Niederer of Pennington, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office;  Conrade Nyekan of Hamilton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Samuel E. Padro of Burlington, Burlington Twp. Police Department; Anthony Pinizzotto Jr. of New Brunswick, Alternate Route; Richard S. Piotrowski, III of Hamilton, Hamilton Township Police Department; Marek A. Poplawski of Hamilton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Paul J. Steffanelli of Stockton, Alternate Route; James C. Steimle of Hamilton, Lawrence Township Police Department; Wilson M. Tavarez of Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy Police Department; Leigh Thatcher-Johnson of Hamilton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Kenneth E. Vagnozzi of Ewing, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office; Mathew W. Vazquez of Perth Amboy, Perth Amboy Police Department; Robert C. Voorhees of Hamilton, Hopewell Township Police Department; David J. Warrick Jr. of Hamilton, Hamilton Township Police Department; Terry L. Woolverton Jr. of Ewing, Alternate Route; Allen W. Wurpel of Southampton, Alternate Route; Jason M. Young of Hamilton, Mercer County Sheriff’s Office.