A new, national program is working hand-in-hand with law enforcement and other public safety entities to give young people direct, intensive experience in the field. The Public Safety Cadets (PSC) is a nonprofit organization that aims to mentor, train, and prepare young men and women for a career in law enforcement, fire-rescue or emergency medical services.
The new organization was founded, and is managed by, active and retired law enforcement officers and public safety industry leaders. PSC President Kent Jefferies—a former police officer and 21-year Secret Service veteran—says that the program was conceived to fill an increasing gap in the community. "We need to foster better conversations and interactions between cops and kids," he says, "and help young people see public safety as an appealing career choice, like previous generations did." Jefferies says that PSC is an immersive experience for the Cadets, who range in age from 14-21; the program addresses education, physical fitness, practical training, character building, and other career and life skills. Scholarships and other awards will also be available. "This is not just an observer experience or ride-along program," says Jefferies, "we are actively creating a recruiting pipeline to the profession."
That pipeline benefits the agencies as much as it does the Cadets. A 2017 Department of Justice report on law enforcement hiring challenges concluded that:
"Millennials, and now the first members of Generation Z, dominate the entry-level applicant pool. They represent the bulk of the individuals that police agencies must recruit and hire for years to come… many of today's young people do not envision spending their entire lives in a single career, much less a single job…agencies that recognize and embrace change will be on track to maintain their numbers while also filling their ranks with the types of officers that are best suited for the challenges of 21st century policing."
The Public Safety Cadet program seeks to help agencies meet these challenges, and importantly, to do so in a manner that does not strain limited financial resources. PSC President Jefferies says that registration fees for both agencies and cadets are minimal. "Law enforcement leaders have told us that the cost of outreach programs has always been a struggle. But with the high level of involvement our leadership has in the industry, and through our funding efforts, we are working hard to minimize that obstacle"
The first department to be granted a PSC charter was the Fairfax County (VA) Police Department, with others quickly following suit. Jefferies says that the organization anticipates adding at least 1,000 agencies and 10,000 cadets between 2019 and 2020.
For more information, visit www.publicsafetycadets.org.