Scholarship helps local police forces diversify


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A Hillsborough police officer candidate is among five officers to receive academy scholarship.

The Somerset County’s Board of Commissioners and Prosecutor’s Office announced the scholarships, which are funded by the American Rescue Plan and overseen by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s office, the scholarships will help local police forces diversify.

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“This program is inspired by the desperate need across our nation to diversify the police departments that keep our communities safe,” said Commissioner Director Shanel Y. Robinson. “Police forces perform best when they look like the communities they serve, and yet this has been an elusive goal for too many communities. Our scholarship program helps overcome the obstacle of paying to attend a police academy.”

Somerset County Prosecutor John P. McDonald thanked the Commissioners for their “unwavering” support.

“This is giving a great service to the residents of Somerset County,” he said. “It is a wonderful program. The vision of this board and of the commissioners in this county and the support from the administration has been remarkable and we really appreciate it.”

The following candidates were chosen following a written exam and physical fitness exam conducted by the prosecutor’s office. Results of every candidate who participated were provided to the municipal police agencies who then conducted oral interviews and selected individual recruits. The scholarship winners for each department are:

  • Bound Brook Police Department: Nazceer Whitley of Bound Brook
  • Hillsborough Police Department: Sara Harrilal of Somerville
  • Manville Police Department: Jeff Sumbana of South Bound Brook
  • Raritan Police Department: Alyssa Myrnyj of Manville
  • Watchung Police Department: Cindy Aldana of Somerville

These departments have committed to providing two years of employment as an officer to scholarship recipients who successfully complete their Police Academy training.

In the first round, two candidates were selected, by Watchung and North Plainfield. One of those officers is already serving in uniform. Steffany Marroquin was the first Somerset County Police Scholarship recipient to enter a police academy. Marroquin has completed the academy and is working as an officer for the North Plainfield Police Department.

To qualify, applicants had to be at least 21 years of age, American citizens, residents of Somerset County, able to speak and write in English, holders of at least an associate’s degree or 60 college credits, be of sound mind and body, and be able to pass a written, physical, and medical examination administered by the Somerset County Prosecutor’s Office.

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