The New Jersey State Police is looking for a few good men and women.

Not to enroll in the Police Academy to become troopers, but rather to participate in the State Police Citizens Academy.

“We basically pull in New Jersey citizens from all walks of life, from different communities, in order to give them an in-depth insight on what we do,” said New Jersey State Police Superintendent Col. Pat Callahan.

He said a new Citizens Academy class of 20 began a 9-week course on Wednesday, focusing on the mission and history of the State Police, and other subjects people are curious about: trooper-involved shootings, internal affairs investigations, recruiting and "all the things that are a top of mind for our communities.”

Callahan said this semester the class will take a field trip to MetLife Stadium in the Meadowlands “where we will give a full overview of our Homeland Security branch and our special operations, which is our SWAT teams, our marine services, our aviation bureau.”

He said another field trip will go to the Hamilton Techplex, “where they understand the roll of forensics and ballistic analysis as we try to combat gun violence in New Jersey with crime gun protocols.”

He said other parts of the course include community engagement, with discussions on how officer and trooper shootings are investigated and the roll of the Attorney General’s office in overseeing how NJSP internal affairs investigations are carried out when allegations are made against troopers.

Callahan said by “pulling back the curtain” and allowing citizens to learn about how these issues are handled, it will help to create a bridge of understanding and trust.

He pointed out the Citizens Academy classes are made up of a cross-section of New Jersey residents from across the state.

“There’s been a blend from small business owners, guidance counselors, high school teachers, there was a truck driver in one a couple of classes ago, there are faith-based leaders.”

He said this program is extremely valuable because it will help to build bonds of trust between the NJSP and the community.

“If we’re getting to know each other around yellow crime scene tape then we’ve missed the mark, we need to get together at meetings like this, we need to get together at barbecues, at basketball games,” said Callahan.

He said another goal is to humanize the badge and show the public “that are troopers are Sunday school teachers, they’re little league coaches, they’re moms and dads and brothers and sisters."

He added body cameras play a role in instilling public trust but it’s the women and men that wear them, “and the character of the women and men in the State Police that is ultimately what is going to result in public trust.”

For more information about the Citizens Academy, call the State Police at 609-882-2000 and ask for the Office of Employee Relations and Community Outreach.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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