Jersey City has been using a pre-training routine for new police recruits, many of whom show up without any prior military or other regimented training experience. And so far, officials say, it's been a big success.

Jersey City Public Safety Director Jim Shea said the pre-training gets recruits ready for the paramilitary discipline, the marching and the physical fitness.

"We can work with them on things that they have weaknesses in and help them get ready," he said. "It is one of the factors that makes a difference. The mayor and I have been involved in recruiting for about four and a half years now, since he took office."

Shea said one of the things that they discovered was that by hiring young men and women and sending them right to a paramilitary academy, they did not prepare them for the experience.

"The mayor and I are both former Marines, and we look at what the Marine Corps and other military units do," Shea said. "So once we put our class together to go into an academy class, we now hire them about 30 days earlier, and have them come to work here in Jersey City, and work together for four weeks before they go to the academy."

He said class members bond — they lean on and support each other through the academy experience, instead of showing up there without any connections.

Shea said recruits get to meet with all kinds of people in the city and a number of community groups to get their take on urban policing. He said with no recruits dropping out, they must be doing something right.

"We get them excited about the job, and we have them buy into being a police officer in Jersey City," he said.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5