Forty-three cadets who made up the 27th basic class of police officers took part in today’s Mercer County Police Academy commencement held in the gymnasium at Mercer County Community College (MCCC).

An audience of several hundred family members, friends, Mercer County dignitaries and law enforcement officials from around State of New Jersey saw the cadets receive graduation certificates to officially make them police officers.

The graduates endured 21 weeks of training at the academy in all aspects of law enforcement and will now serve in police agencies within Mercer County and elsewhere. The academy, which was created in October 2006, is located on the grounds of MCCC.

Matthew Prettyman of Hamilton, who will join the Trenton Police Department and was chosen by his fellow graduates as class speaker, reminded his classmates of the difficult path they face as the next generation of law enforcement.

“Our generation of law enforcement must be one that never settles for complacency and always pushes to be better,” Officer Prettyman said. “Our generation of law enforcement must strive to become better every day as we aim to improve our communities to make them a safer place and worth living in.

“There will be times when it seems that all hope is lost, when faith seems that it is at its lowest, but I hope in those times you will remember everything that we are fighting to protect, the reason you swore an oath to serve and protect.”

Also addressing the class were Police Academy Director Martin Masseroni, Mercer County Executive Brian M. Hughes, Mercer County Sheriff John A. Kemler, West Windsor Police Chief Robert Garofalo, president of the Mercer County Chiefs of Police Association; and Dr. Deborah Preston, MCCC president. Also in attendance was County Commissioner Lucylle Walter.

During training, the class studied in disciplines such as use of force, firearms, vehicle pursuit, hostage negotiation, advanced crime scene processing and domestic violence prevention, among others. Several cadets received awards at the graduation ceremony for their excellence in training.

Clyde Yeldell, Trenton Police Department, was chosen by his classmates to receive the Certificate of Merit awarded by the N.J. Police Training Commission to the best all-around graduate. Michael Manning, Trenton Police Department, received the academic award; Nicholas Feliciano, Burlington County Sheriff’s Office, earned the firearms qualification award with a perfect score; Joseph Morreale, New Jersey Transit Police Department, received the physical training award; and Zachary Sjosward, New Jersey Transit Police Department, received the emergency vehicle operations award.

The Mercer Police Academy consists of two classrooms specially designed for the needs of law enforcement training, and recruits use MCCC grounds, its library and its gymnasium for training purposes. The campus includes a padded training room that is used for “defensive tactics” classes. A shooting range in Hopewell Township operated by the prosecutor’s office is part of the academy as well.

The following is a list of the graduates, their hometowns and the law enforcement agency each will join. (Alternate Route trainees attend the academy at their own expense and now can pursue employment as a certified police officer.)

Alternate Route: Oksana Kopyto, East WindsorBurlington County Sheriff’s Office: Mark Conard, Delanco; Nicholas Feliciano, Camden; Kyle Fuentes, South AmboyHamilton Township Police Division: Cody Astbury, Hamilton; Eric Levandowski, HamiltonHunterdon County Sheriff’s Office: Daniel Campbell, LebanonLinden Police Department: Tiara Acevedo, NewarkMercer County Sheriff’s Office: Terrance Bailey, Ewing; Alec Gerasimowicz, Hamilton; Albert Mostrangeli, Hamilton; Anastacio Perez-Ortiz, Princeton; Robert Pontani, Hamilton; Ahmad White, HamiltonMiddlesex County Sheriff’s Office: Dashaun Best-Crossen, South PlainfieldNew Jersey State Human Services Police: Christopher Kelly, South Bound Brook; Joseph Mastrangelo, HamiltonNew Jersey State Park Police: Tyler Vardanega, HopewellNew Jersey Transit Police Department: Robert Garcia, South Amboy; Michael Insalaco, Floral Park, N.Y.; Albert Lee, Saddle Brook; Joseph Morreale, Lyndhurst; Michael Prashad, Montclair; Zachary, Sjosward, Clifton; Benjamin Suh, West WindsorPrinceton Police Department: Dimitrios Stoupas, Highland ParkSomerset County Sheriff’s Office: Benjamin Butler, South Brunswick; Ryan Parks, North Plainfield; Gerron Wooten Jr., UnionSouth Brunswick Police Department: Daniel Stoddard, West WindsorTrenton Police Department: Richard Brown, Hamilton; Christian Clayton, Hamilton; Jami Fassnacht, Ewing; Matthew Kieffer, Hamilton; Michael Manning, Pennington; Estuardo Mazariegos, Trenton; Joshua Montalva, East Windsor; Matthew Prettyman, Hamilton; Melissa Sabatino, Trenton; Randall Schwaeble, Robbinsville; Michael VanCampenhout, Hamilton; Michael Williams, Trenton; Clyde Yeldell, Trenton