“Also, in order to ensure that youth in the community had an opportunity to move in to a career in law enforcement, we are actually taking recruits straight from the community, so that’s why we did it.”
With the extensive background checks that have to be done for police officers, having young people go through the cadet program after having already gone through all of those checks provides quicker backfill for officers.
The program is funded through the existing budget for fare inspectors and security guards; the cadets are going to be a portion of those. With funding for 60 total positions and always running below that, the cadets will be put in that same pool, from within the existing budget.
One of the obstacles was to work with the union so it understood the benefits of the program. “Once we relayed the benefits in how it’s going to help the youth in the community where we serve and how it’s going to provide a constant backfill of ready police officers to our system and the fact that it’s going to provide more eyes and ears to give passengers a better feeling of security, everyone pretty much bought in to it,” Wells says.
“Everyone wants the young people of our community to have an opportunity to move forward in their career and that’s why they saw the advantage to having this career path at 18 years old.”
Wells says they are recruiting at the high schools and local community colleges for the program. Once they become a cadet, they have priority over anyone else that applies into the police department once they reach 21; they gain priority hiring status.
The cadets will receive training in all the areas that the police officers get in regards to security except handling of a gun. “They’ll have ride-along training with the officers, blood-borne pathogens training, rescue training, track access training,” says Wells. “They’ll also learn the terrain about the specific transit system, so they’ll be a ready applicant once they become 21; they already know our transit system.”
Wells encourages other transit agencies with a police department to consider this type of a program. “We feel like agencies should consider this and look into the local jurisdictions at how they institute a cadet program because transit agencies need to provide a better impression of security.”
He stresses that transit agencies would be wise to take advantage of a cadet program. “They need to have people having a better feeling of security and it’s better to pull people from the pool where you live and where you serve in the community.
“You become a community partner because you’re hiring from the community and you’re taking the youth from the community to use, to help look at your system.”