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Program designed as path to career

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GREENFIELD — The Greenfield Police Department is offering an unusual opportunity for young adults interested in law enforcement: a chance to get their foot in the door.

The newly developed GPD Cadet Program invites young adults 18 to 20 years old to be a part of the department, training and working alongside full-time officers.

The cadets won’t be officers – no guns or arrest powers – but they will develop a working knowledge of an officer’s job through hands-on volunteer experience.

Police Chief John Jester said the idea is based in part on his own experiences growing up interested in law enforcement. As a youth, he joined the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department Explorers Program, and he was hooked.

Instead of offering a program for children or young teens, however, he envisions the GPD Cadet Program as a stepping stone for joining the force, like an internship.

The benefit is twofold: The department gets a chance to test the cadets’ skills, and the cadets get to see if law enforcement is really a career they want to pursue.

Cadets can stay with the program until they are 21 and eligible to apply for a full-time job as a police officer.

“I think actually it’s going to give us a chance to look early at somebody that might want to be a police officer and give us a chance to know them, have worked with them prior to them going through our (hiring) process,” Jester said.

The program has the mayor’s full support.

Chuck Fewell, a former Indiana State Police trooper, said he hopes the program will fill a gap for students who do not have college plans but still want to take steps toward starting a career.

“I’m a firm believer that not all kids … want to go to college as soon as they get out of school, so the big step is vocation,” Fewell said.

He said he also respects that GPD is giving students an opportunity to experience the culture before they commit to applying to become an officer, full time.

“It’s not an easy life, and they learn that real quick,” he said.

Jester said he wants to keep the program small and manageable, with just five or six cadets to start. The program might expand if it proves to be popular.

Each cadet will be assigned to a mentor officer, who will guide them in their experiences and answer any questions they might have about a law enforcement officer’s job.

Cadets will assist officers with a multitude of duties, from directing traffic at accident scenes to taking basic reports. They will ride along with officers and see first hand what law enforcement is up against on a daily basis.

Brian Guinn, who oversees the patrol division, said he will look to the mentor officers to show cadets not only what their responsibilities will be as officers but to help them learn to interact with members of the community.

“They’re going to go out and not only teach them what they do as police officers but as human beings,” he said. “Each officer will have something different to pass on to the kid that’ll benefit them down the road.”



Those interested in applying for the Greenfield Police Department Cadet Program should send a letter of interest to Police Chief John Jester at jjester@greenfieldin.org or call (317) 477-4410 for more information. Applicants should be Hancock County residents 18 to 20 years old (exceptions for younger applicants will be made at the chief’s discretion) and have no adult criminal record.

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