Forty-seven new officers have taken their oaths of office following their graduation from John H. Stamler Police Academy in Scotch Plains, including 21 who joined the Jersey City Police Department one day after the funeral of Detective Joseph Seals.
Seals was the first of four people killed in Jersey City on Dec. 10, when he approached a man and a woman, who shot him and then retreated to a kosher deli, where they killed three more people. Both assailants also died during the ensuing shootout.
Officers from Stamler’s 121st graduating class also included new members of the Union County Sheriff’s Office and the police departments of Elizabeth, Hillside, Linden, Plainfield, Scotch Plains, Union and Westfield, all in Union County, as well as the municipalities of East Newark in Hudson County, South Plainfield in Middlesex County and Warren Township in Somerset County.
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal was the keynote speaker at the Dec. 17 ceremony at the Union County Performing Arts Center in Rahway.
“Because you … take this oath today, our communities will continue to thrive,” Grewal said. “Our rights and liberties will remain guarded and secure. And because you step up, our democracy will endure. I want to thank each of you, all 47 of you, for your courage and commitment to stand up in this particular moment. I want to thank you for answering the call to service.”
Acting Union County Prosecutor Lindsay Ruotolo took special note of the timing of the graduation.
“I saw a Stamler recruit hat yesterday, as I walked out of Detective Seals’ funeral, and realized you were helping with security,” she said. “You took part in one of the saddest days in recent memory on the eve of one of the happiest for you.
“All of you know the very real dangers you face, and yet you step up to serve anyway.”
The 21 new Jersey City Police Department officers were among a total of 34 introduced during a ceremony at City Hall the day after the commencement, bringing the total department complement to 976, an increase of more than 200 since 2013.
A moment of silence was recognized in honor of Seals during the ceremony in Jersey City.