Eight new recruits who were recently sworn into the Union City Police Department began training at the police academy on Monday in Jersey City. By Tuesday, one had already resigned.
“Unfortunately, the rigors of the academy were a bit more than some recruits expected,” said Police Chief Charles Everett last week. “Having recruits resign early on in the academy has happened before. I am looking for ways to better inform police applicants about policing and the training required so that they can make an informed judgment.”
The eight recruits were sworn into the department on Jan. 5 with friends and family at their sides. “It’s very important to show support for our new recruits,” said Everett during the ceremony at Union City High School.
“It’s an opportunity to serve in a way that most people don’t get to.” – Chief Everett
The new officer positions were made possible by a federal grant that will be dispersed over three years to pay for their salaries. A spokesman for the mayor’s office confirmed that the $2.2 million grant is part of President Barack Obama’s recovery program. Union City was one of only two cities in New Jersey to receive the grant, the other being Newark.
Everett said that being a police officer is a good career. “It’s an opportunity to serve in a way that most people don’t get to,” he said.
The officers who make it through the rest of the six-month training at the academy will be ready to hit the streets sometime in June.
Carrying on with dreams
The new officers are Juan Arroyave, John Garces, Jessica Garcia, Patricia Lazzarini, Edmundo Maruri, Ivan Palacios, and Jose Taveras.
Jessica Garcia, 22 is both nervous and excited about the prospects of her future career. “It’s surreal,” she said after the ceremony. “It’s a dream come true for me.”
Jessica has wanted to be a police officer since she took a career test in grade school. She said that her lifelong dream was worth the wait. Prior to her initiation into the police force, Garcia worked as a 911 dispatcher for the city.
As a police officer, Garcia is most looking forward to helping the people in her neighborhood. “Anything I can do for the community will be a proud achievement for me and my family,” she said.
For John Garces, 24, the training at the police academy is a test of endurance and strength. “I’m looking forward to them building me up,” said Garces. A resident of Union City for more than 20 years, Garces was most recently employed as a gas station attendant on the New Jersey Turnpike before being accepted to the Union City Police Department.
He had applied to various police enforcement agencies, including those as far away as Florida. After three years on a wait list, Garces was pleased to have the opportunity to begin his career as a police officer in his own town.
“I want to keep the community safe,” said Garces. “You can’t show fear [because] it shows. I’m pretty confident right now.”
A Union Hill High School graduate, Jose Taveras, 28, has lived in Union City his whole life. “It’s always been a dream,” he said. “I’m just glad I made it.” Taveras was enrolled in the U.S. Navy Construction Battalion and also worked in the state corrections office prior to becoming a police officer.
“I’m excited,” said Taveras. “I’m ready to take on a new career and am looking forward to doing my job to the best of my abilities.”
In addition to taking on this new career, Taveras is also looking forward to taking on a wife. He is getting married this October and will be training for both the academy and the wedding over the next few months.
But his eyes are already focused on his next goal. “It doesn’t stop here,” he said. “I’m looking forward to being chief one day.”
Lana Rose Diaz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.