Hillside adds 10 recruits to police force

Photo Courtesy of the township of Hillside From left are: Capt. Lashonda Burgess, officers Brian Wilson, Giovanni Esposito, Branden McNeil, Amadeu Fernandes Da Cruz, Krysti Janusz, Mayor Dahlia Vertreese, Chief Vincent Ricciardi, and officers Manuel Diaz Jr., Diego Coral, Carlos Rivas-Difo, Carlos Nascimento, Michael Morales and Sgt. Ronald Bartell.

HILLSIDE, NJ — Ten police recruits graduated from academy training on April 5, bringing the local force up to 62 officers, police Chief Vincent Ricciardi.

Seventeen recruits entered the Essex County Police Academy in November, according to an earlier press release. There, they were instructed in law and protocols, crisis intervention, de-escalation, use of force and community building.

“We’re proud that we were able to welcome 10 new graduates — all residents of the township of Hillside — onto the force,” Ricciardi said in a statement. “This is important because not only does this bring us closer to a fully staffed department, but adds recruits that are vested in, and truly recognize and understand, the needs of our community.”

The class that entered the academy consisted of women, bilingual recruits, a military veteran, a former dispatcher, an auxiliary police officer and those who have studied criminal justice.

Several academy graduates earned honors in their class. Officer Giovanni Esposito held a class leadership position; Branden McNeil received the Top Gun Award for his perfect score at the shooting range and Carlos Nascimento earned an academic award for having the highest academic average in the class.

“One of the goals of the township of Hillside is to make sure that we are providing our residents with the best quality services and that those services are provided from the most qualified pool of a candidates,” Ricciardi said.

There were 53 sworn officers on the force in November, when the recruits entered the academy. Ricciardi previously told LocalSource that full staffing calls for 70 officers.

Additionally, three new recruits are currently attending the Union County Police Academy, and are slated to graduate June 8, Ricciardi said. The township plans to hire another group of five or six recruits, who will begin at the academy in July.

The following Hillside recruits graduated from the academy last week: Brian I. Wilson, Giovanni Esposito, Branden McNeil, Amadeu Fernandes Da Cruz, Krysti Janusz, Manuel Diaz Jr., Diego Coral, Carlos Rivas-Difo, Carlos Nascimento and Michael Morales.