Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres and police director Jerry Speziale announced the creation of a Public Safety Camp which will allow more than five dozen city young people between the ages of 7-14 to go to Camp Hope in West Milford for a week.
50 to 75 young people will get the opportunity to go to the camp for a week of fun and educational activities. The youngsters will learn how to be police officers, firefighters, and EMTs for a day.
Police academy drills, fire safety, crime science investigation, fingerprinting, CPR, and first aid, are some of the activities the young people will partake in. The youngsters will also witness demonstrations from the Passaic County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad and Mounted Division.
“Understanding that investing in today’s youth pays dividends for our community’s future, it is imperative that we provide city youth the opportunity to have a fun filled educational experience in a camp environment and engage them in positive ways at the earliest stages possible,” said mayor Jose “Joey” Torres in a statement.
Camp Hope is a 62-acre wooded retreat on the shores of Greenwood Lake in West Milford. Swimming and field day activities are also part of the program which will conclude in a formal graduation ceremony during which participants will be awarded certificates.
“This is an opportunity to have children and young adults have a free great week of fun and activities away from the City and see a different side of police and other public safety personnel,” said Speziale in a statement.
The director said buses will pick up the kids beginning at 7 a.m. and return the youngsters home at 5 p.m. after a fun-filled day from Monday through Thursday of next week.
Karen Cisco, director of Camp Hope, and her staff have agreed to donate their time, food, and facilities during the week long Public Safety Camp. Busing is being provided free by the camp, said Speziale.
Speziale and Torres expressed their gratitude to Passaic County Sheriff Richard Berdnik for his participation in the camp. Torres said the camp will help build better relationship between the community and law enforcement.
“Many inner‐city youth have misperceptions about the police and their role in the community. The camp will be a great relationship building exercise for all sides and serve as a catalyst for greater tolerance and understanding and as a model for future programs,” said the mayor.
Council president William McKoy said the camp will open up future opportunities for the Silk City’s young people. “The camp will provide an excellent opportunity for children and young people to experience and learn about the valuable skills required of public safety professionals and should serve as a fun team building exercise that can only enhance the police department’s relationship to the community,” said McKoy in a statement.
The camp is organized by the city’s Community Policing Unit. Space for the camp is limited. Applications are available at the Paterson Recreation Department at 133 Ellison Street.
The city’s community policing is also seeking individuals to volunteer for the camp. Contact police sergeant Sharon Easton at (973) 321-1174 for more information.