September 4, 2020
TRENTON, NJ (MERCER)–Governor Philip D. Murphy, Lieutenant Governor Sheila Y. Oliver, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, and Colonel Patrick J. Callahan presented badges to New Jersey’s newest state troopers during graduation ceremonies at Arm and Hammer Park this morning.
The 160th New Jersey State Police Class graduated 146 men and 19 women. Of this graduating class, 85 percent have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 15 percent are prior military, and 20 percent have prior law enforcement experience. Among the class, 71 were college athletes, 14 were firefighters, 14 were emergency medical technicians, 27 are married, 7 are engaged, 18 have family members that were former law enforcement officers, and 17 currently have family in law enforcement.
Normally a class would complete 24 weeks of strenuous physical and academic training consisting of classroom lessons and practical training scenarios. Recruits would report to the State Police academy in Sea Girt before dawn on Monday morning and would not return home until dismissal on Friday evening, but on Friday, March 20, in week 4 of their training, COVID-19 brought the class to an abrupt halt and forced them to vacate the academy.
Our academy staff worked tireless to modify training, and as a result, the class did not disband as they continued training virtually before being deployed statewide to assist with our COVID-19 response efforts. Recruits were tasked with patrolling testing locations and temporary hospitals as well as conducting vehicle decontamination details and staffing temperature checkpoints at state buildings.
On June 5, in-person training was resumed at an offsite facility, which was able to accommodate recruits and training staff while adhering to strict COVID-19 protocols, and on August 14, the class returned to the New Jersey State Police Academy at Sea Girt. To keep the class on schedule to graduate, the recruits completed their last 13 weeks of training without going home on the weekends like traditional classes. The life of a recruit is already demanding in many ways, but the COVID-19 pandemic added unprecedented challenges for the 160th New Jersey State Police Class.
The newly graduated troopers have been assigned to stations throughout the state, and over the next few months, they will begin their careers under the watchful eye of their Trooper-Coaches and supervisors.
“There is no greater calling than protecting and serving the people of New Jersey,” said Governor Murphy. “I’m honored to congratulate the exceptional men and women of the 160th graduating class for their commitment and perseverance during this unprecedented time.”
“The recruits of the 160th class will be forever revered for choosing to step up and serve in uncertain times knowing how much will be asked of them physically and mentally in the coming months. I commend them for their bravery and hard work in overcoming the challenges presented to them,” said Lt. Governor Sheila Oliver, who serves as Commissioner of the Department of Community Affairs. “I also believe these recruits, freshly sensitized and awakened to the systemic and racial injustices in our nation, and with their diverse skill sets and backgrounds, are up to the task and will succeed in protecting and serving the people of New Jersey. I offer my heartfelt congratulations and wish them the best in their careers in public service.”
“COVID-19 did not stop the 160th State Police Recruit Class from completing their training. On the contrary, it defined them as one of the most unique and adaptable recruit classes ever,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “This class adjusted to virtual learning and alternative training environments, and they learned the meaning of service early by assisting with COVID response and hurricane season preparations. In short, they exemplify the ‘can do’ spirit of the New Jersey State Police. I congratulate the 160th Class and wish them continued success as they begin their careers in law enforcement—careers that I am confident will be devoted to protecting and winning the trust of the communities they serve.”
“The 160th New Jersey State Police Class have a historic academy experience as no class has trained in the midst of a global pandemic,” said Colonel Patrick J. Callahan, Superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. “As these newly graduated troopers stand poised to embark on a career of service to the state, they begin their journey equipped with the knowledge and real-life experience gained during their academy training by working alongside enlisted members as part of our COVID-19 response efforts. I am confident that the adversity these graduates encountered will help them thrive as New Jersey State Troopers and will propel them into a long and prosperous career of service as they continue to uphold the core values and the traditions of the New Jersey State Police.”
In addition to honoring all graduates from the 160th class, Colonel Callahan presented the following awards:
The recipient of the “Father Grady Award” is Trooper Erin Folger, Ocean Gate, N.J. This award is presented to the recruit with the highest academic average.
The recipient of the “Captain Baxter Award” is Trooper Harry Papasavas, of Holmdel, N.J. This award is presented to the recruit with the highest marksmanship average.
The recipient of the “H. Norman Schwarzkopf Award” is Trooper Chase McCabe, of Howell, N.J. This award is presented to the recruit with the highest physical average.
The recipient of the “Dennis William Zilinski Award” is Trooper Chase McCabe, of Howell, N.J. This award is presented to the outstanding recruit who is currently serving or who has served in the U.S. military, demonstrated active support and service to the class, and exemplifies the State Police’s service to the citizens of this state.
The recipient of the “Commandant’s Award” is Trooper Michael Burwell, of Highland Park, N.J. This award is presented to the outstanding recruit selected by the academy instructors.
The recipient of the “Lieutenant James Walsh Award” is Trooper Sergio Castro, of Union, N.J. This award is presented to the person who exhibited dedication, commitment, loyalty, and unselfishness during training.
The recipient of the “Superintendent’s Award” is Trooper Steven Brodzik, of Vineland, N.J. This award is presented to the outstanding recruit selected by his or her peers.