John H. Stamler Police Academy Graduates Second-Largest Class in 20 Years

A total of 85 recruits from law-enforcement departments in four different counties graduated from the John H. Stamler Police Academy during the Monday evening commencement ceremony of the Scotch Plains institution’s 109th Basic Police Training Class, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park and academy Director Anton W. Danco announced Tuesday.

It was the second-largest graduating class produced by the academy in the last two decades.

United States District Court Judge William H. Walls delivered the keynote address to the recruits and hundreds of onlookers at the Union County Performing Arts Center in downtown Rahway. Acting Prosecutor Park, Union County Manager Alfred Faella, and Roselle Park Police Chief and Union County Police Chiefs Association Vice President Paul Morrison also made remarks, with class president Rashaun J. Spence of the Jersey City Police Department delivering a response on behalf of his classmates.

Among the graduates was New Jersey Institute of Technology police officer Daniel E. Villanueva, who earned the Union County Fallen Officers Memorial Award for his performance during the most recent 20-week curriculum, which meets the strict requirements of the New Jersey Police Training Commission. Also among those receiving special honors was Dennis R. O’Berg of the Jersey City Police Department, recipient of the John H. Stamler Police Academy Merit Award.

A total of 26 graduating recruits now will be joining law-enforcement departments in Union County, including seven with the Union County Sheriff’s Office, six with the Union Township Police Department, four with the Plainfield Police Division, three with the Rahway Police Department, two with the Kean University Police Department, two with the Mountainside Police Department, and one apiece with the Union County Police Department and the Westfield Police Department.

“There is nothing I or anyone else here can say that might offer anything close to the degree of honor you have achieved for yourselves through your actions during these last several months,” Park told the recruits. “Through grueling workouts, early mornings, intensive study, and just about every form of mental, emotional, and physical exertion imaginable, you have earned the right to wear a uniform and badge, to uphold the law, and to protect and serve.”

The John H. Stamler Police Academy opened in 1946 and moved to its current location on Raritan Road in Scotch Plains in 1991. Five years earlier, in 1986, it entered into an enduring working relationship with the Union County Prosecutor’s Office, which continues to have its assistant prosecutors and detectives teach recruit training courses in many different disciplines. Two late Union County prosecutors were instrumental in working with the Union County Police Chiefs Association in cementing this relationship: Stamler, in whose honor the academy was renamed, and Andrew K. Ruotolo, whose name graces the Union County Prosecutor’s Office building in downtown Elizabeth.

For more information about the John H. Stamler Police Academy, call 908-889-6112 or go online