EATON COUNTY, Mich. (WLNS) – Law enforcement agencies around the country have been struggling to recruit and retain officers in the last few years.
In Eaton County, officials hope giving young people a closer look at the day-to-day responsibilities can get them ready to join the force full time
“This is one way we can bring people in, kind of get their feet wet a little bit to see if this is truly what they want to have for a career,” said Eaton County Sheriff Tom Reich.
Reich says a year of retirements and transfers has left 14 open positions from patrol to corrections. The shortage of staff has put a strain on the department.
Last year, the sheriff’s office announced that night patrols would be handled by Michigan State Troopers.
Sheriff Reich says his team looked to other mid-Michigan departments and says they were impressed with the progress cadets were making in programs around the region.
“And a lot of those cadets successfully graduated the mid-Michigan police academy and now they are patrolling the streets of Lansing,” said Reich.
In Ingham County, officials with the East Lansing police department say their cadet program has helped them fill positions from patrol units to parking enforcement and corrections.
Lt. Adrian Ojerio says a big advantage is pushing high standards from the start.
“That helps us weed down that field and when we do have an applicant that shows potential, we can also take the time to mentor that applicant or mentor that cadet into something that we would want in our department or like I said, someone other departments find extremely desirable,” said Ojerio.
That training continues for many cadets at several police academies around the state including the mid-Michigan Police Academy at Lansing Community College.
Sheriff Reich says it will be up to his office’s discretion when they think a cadet is ready for the next step at the academy.
Reich hopes this new program joins a history of initiatives that give back to the community.
“We are going to continue to add new programs to assist the communities in Eaton County,” said Reich.
Those who want to apply for the Eaton County Cadet program must be at least 18, They will also need a high school diploma, and currently taking college classes in criminal justice.
Sheriff Reich says those who are selected with get experience in administration, corrections and patrol.