On Tuesday night, in addition to their police camp graduation, the Brick Township Police Department and community celebrated “National Night Out: America’s Night Out Against Crime” with a gala event held at Windward Beach.
The Brick Police hold an annual two week-long “Police Camp” for children ages 10 to 13, which involves simulated police officer training and education about the techniques involved with the job. The graduation ceremony is then held in concert with “National Night Out”, which was presided over by Chief Nils R. Bergquist and Captain John Rein.
The camp’s Coordinator was Officer Tara Schinder, while Instructional Officers included Jay Lampiasi, Scott Dierking, Paul Catalina, Bernardino Alvarado, Det. Thomas, Joseph Farnkopf, Sgt. Smith, Christopher Geskey, Jim Kelly, Keith Prendeville, along with Brick Township EMT’s Stacy Speidel and Michael Campofiori.
1st Platoon Camp Graduates included: Eric Allan, Caleb Alvarado, Jaxson Bliss, Brenden Bontorno, Georgia Braun, Thomas Bremmer, Parker Brown, Brandon Cairns, Carmela Cocuzza, Richie Cosgrove, Joseph Costello, Brandon Davicsin, Sean DeCoursey, Gianna DeMaio, Kyle Devaney, Hunter DeVeau, Jack Douglas, Joshua Duffield, Frankie Egan, Cory Engelhardt, Matthew Farnkopf, Sean Fogarty, Nicholas Gallo, Cole Groschel and Vincent Guardino.
2nd Platoon Camp Graduates included: Paul Jorgensen, Joseph Kozak, Tyler Larned, Jimmy Leblo, Peter Macron, Liam Mailley, Carly Marotta, William Melendez, Michael Mess, Cole Ortner, Michael Pascale, Anthony Petrosino, Giouanni Piccinich, Dominic Reina, Gabriella Reuter, Andrew Rivera Jr., Spencer Rozell, Patrick Salamone, Peter Salamone, Trevor Savoye, Matthew Smith, Emily Smith, Melinda Smith, Mackenzie Souchek and Matthew Tiernan.
Mayor Stephen C. Acropolis applauded the work of the graduates in a statement.
“I would like to commend and congratulate the graduates of this year’s Police Camp for the hard work they have put in. They have learned about what it means to be a police officer and I am sure they have a great appreciation of what our police do every day. Congratulations to each and every graduate,” said the mayor.
Several police, fire, and EMS vehicles were present for the event, as well as exhibits explaining different aspects of police work to visitors. Also, many activities were present at Windward Beach for children and visitors to enjoy for “National Night Out”, such as inflatable play areas, a dunk tank and live music.
According to the event’s National Project Coordinator Matt Peskin, “National Night Out” is a year-long community building campaign, designed to heighten crime prevention awareness; generate support for and participation in local anti-crime programs; strengthen neighborhood spirit and police-community partnerships; and send a message to criminals that neighborhoods are organized and fighting back against crime.
Peskin is also the creator of “National Night Out”, which debuted in 1984. Brick Township is just one of 175 municipalities in the state of New Jersey celebrating “National Night Out”, and one of 15,300 communities to do so nationally.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity for communities nationwide to promote police-community partnerships, crime prevention and neighborhood camaraderie,” said Peskin. “While the one night is certainly not an answer to crime, drugs and violence, National Night Out does represent the kind of spirit, energy and determination that is helping to make many neighborhoods safer places throughout the year. It [NNO] is a night to celebrate safety and crime prevention successes — and to expand and strengthen programs for the next 364 days.”
Traditional parts of “National Night Out” have included residents leaving their house lights on and holding vigils on their front porches, but have expanded over the years to include block parties, cookouts, parades, police visits, festivals, neighborhood walks, safety fairs, contests, rallies and meetings.