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Atlantic County - A group of local veterans who served our country will now be serving our community, as five local military veterans began the journey this week through the Atlantic County Police Academy and will soon become officers.
From protecting our country to protecting our community, a group of local veterans will soon become new officers of Atlantic County, right in area where many of them grew up.
"It is a good feeling, now I get to serve citizens in my country instead of going overseas and now I am here, at home and here to improve my state and my county because I am born here in New Jersey" says Michael Figueroa, Trainee, Sheriff's Office.
"Were able to go through the hiring process and get 5 new officers here in the Sheriffs office, and these officers will replace the officers who recently retired or moved to other agencies" says Frank Balles, Sheriff, Atlantic County.
Sheriff Balles gave the oath of office to five officers back on January 10th to clear the way for them to start their training, and this week Michael Figueroa, Dustin Widas, Erica Morillo, Nicholas Ferguson and Michael Ledden all started the program right here in Egg Harbor Twp at the Atlantic County Training Center.
"To be able to get these officers and put them to work here in the county means a lot to me, especially because it's someone who has went and volunteered to serve our country. I am so proud to have them inside our agency and serve our county residents" says Balles.
The group won't be able to help though until they complete the 22 week training program, which is an around the clock commitment.
"We are in the classroom, knowledge is power so we are learning a lot and taking a lot of notes. When we get home, just because we are off from here does not mean were off at home. We have to study as well as take notes to be prepared for the next day" says Figueroa.
And the Sheriff says the county is encouraging anyone who is a former veteran and interested in becoming an officer to please step forward, as they hope to hire more officers in the near future.
"They have seen things that many men and women in law enforcement have probably never seen or will ever see, fighting the battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. They served our country and paid their dues and we should do whatever we can to employ our vets" says Balles.