New Portland Police Bureau Cadets sworn in at outer East Portland ceremony

Discover how this program introduces young people to a possible career in law enforcement, and how they benefit from it …

Minutes before they are awarded their badges, Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Cadets stand for this group portrait: [Back row] Christian Schiebelhut, Adolfo Vega, Alexander Martinez-Chavez, Captain Kevin Modica; [Center row] Zach Pogolowitz, Kevin Gomez,  Daniel Lopez, Officer Mike Gallagher, and Officer Jeremy Price; [Front row] Joanna Chan, Neisha Smith, Itzel Pelayo, Elizabeth Pyle, and Officer Steve Morinville. Cadet Courtney Wilson was not able to attend.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
More than thirty young people, dressed in light and dark blue uniforms, populated the area in and around the Horner Performing Arts Center at David Douglas High School on April 16 – along with their parents and friends.

The noontime gathering was for a swearing-in ceremony and a celebration for the Portland Police Bureau’s class of 2011 Cadet Academy graduation.

Cadets, serving as Color Guard, descend the auditorium stairs to begin the graduation ceremony program.

“Today we are graduating new Cadets, who have completed 13 weeks of training – approximately 104 hours in basic Law enforcement and law enforcement related classes,” explained Cadet Coordinator for the Portland Police Program, from the Portland Police Bureau (PPB), Officer Jeremy Price.

“Above all, this experience shows young people the importance of volunteering in their community,” Price told us. “And, it also gives them an opportunity to learn what law enforcement is all about. In Portland, after two years and 500 hours of service – if they have not completed their college, and meet the eligibility requirement further education – they can test to become a full-time officer.”

The Cadet Coordinator for the Portland Police Cadet Program, Portland Police Bureau Officer Jeremy Price, welcomes an auditorium full of celebrants to the graduation ceremony.

Even though Cadets are broken into squads by police precinct, Price explained that they all work together on large events, such as at the upcoming Portland Rose Festival. “They get experience meeting and helping citizens, they multiply the efforts of our sworn officers, and at the same time, the provide a real cost savings by reducing department overtime.”

He pointed out, as one sees in many East Portland News stories over the years, that Cadets perform traffic control at accident scenes, assist at civic functions, appear at safety events were they teach bicycle safety, help fit bicycle helmets, and wear the McGruff (the Crime-fighting Dog character) outfit for the younger crowds and parades. Last year the cadets provided a some 15,000 hours of volunteer time on 52 details throughout the year, observed Price.

Cadet Coordinator Price says Cadets undergo rigorous training – but they also have fun activities.

“When they’re not doing details (assignments), they’re out doing ride-alongs with officers – getting a real look at what front-line law enforcement officers do on a daily basis,” Price continued. “And, they compete annually at the Law Enforcement Challenge – which is a competition testing their skills and what they’ve learned in the academy, and from their advisers. They compete against all the other agencies and programs throughout the state, as well as the State of Washington.”

The Portland Police Cadets gain valuable knowledge and experience in preparation for a career in law enforcement, we learned.  Training provided in the Cadet Program includes:

  • Organizational rules and procedures,
  • Graphical orientation,
  • Traffic control,
  • Radio procedures,
  • Note-taking & report writing,
  • Driving techniques,
  • Defensive tactics,
  • Oregon law,
  • Cultural competency,
  • Ethics, and
  • Crisis intervention techniques.

The Cadet program is one way the Portland Police Bureau works to build a police force that reflects the community, Youth Services Captain Kevin Modica, explains.

Cadet program welcomes all, Captain says
As the program got underway, attendees were welcomed by PPB Youth Services Captain Kevin Modica.

“On behalf of Mayor Sam Adams the Police Commissioner, and Chief Michael Rees, I thank you all for being here,” Modica began. “This is a very important day for these young people.

“As I look around the room, I see all color of eyes, shapes, sizes, ethnicities and backgrounds,” Modica went on. “I’ve been in the Portland Police Bureau for 25 years; we’ve continuously looked for ways to reach out to all members of our community; to better reflect the community that we serve.”

Glancing at the academy grads seated before him, Modica continued, “I’m looking here at the future. These young people who’re are part of your family, part of our civic family, our school and neighborhood community, are welcomed to this step in their journey. Not all of them will end up as police officers, as they discover other life choices for careers and vocations.  But this is an awesome opportunity to learn skills, and to give back to the community, to give back to where they live, and to use skills they’ve learned.”

The new Cadets listen attentively as Captain Modica charges them to always do their best.

Modica acknowledged the Cadet Academy’s many advisors by name, adding, “We really appreciate the work that you do.”

Along with the training staff, Modica said that the newly-minted cadets’ friends and family members in the audience were there to support them. “We’re here to give you congratulations, and share in your pride.”

There followed a slide show, depicting the many and varied activities of  the cadets, both at the training academy, and as they serve their community.

Graduating Cadet Alex Martinez says it’s a “privilege, but an honor” to speak for his classmates, as he addresses the audience. PPB Cadet Program photo

Chosen to give the “Cadet to Officer” speech was graduating Cadet Alex Martinez, who said, in part, “Standing here before you, representing the 2011 class of the Cadet Academy is not only a privilege, but an honor, for me. I started in the Cadet Program not knowing anyone, and today I’m graduating and becoming a part of a larger family.

“Becoming a police officer has been a great aspiration of mine since I was a child, but at the start of high school I didn’t demonstrate my full potential.  I wasn’t inspired to do my best by anything; but when I heard about the Cadet program I knew it would be a great opportunity to experience what the field had to offer and a great motivator for me.

“Although I was very excited about the program, I didn’t know what to expect.  Not knowing anyone made things even more nerve-wracking.  But once I was accepted into the program, and partook of several meetings, I felt much more relaxed and eager to become someone important in life.”

Knowing when not to volunteer can be a valuable trait, too, Martinez, advises. PPB Cadet Program photo

Martinez continued, “With every class we took, we all became closer to each other. Every class was a new adventure we all took on together.  Some courses were more interesting than others, like the day cadets got ‘tazed’; of course I was too smart to volunteer, so I wasn’t one of the advisors’ victims.  But at the end of the day, we all made it through all the courses.

“Participating in the Cadet Academy has taught us many things about life and ourselves. The most important thing it has taught me is to always be myself.  I have to let my principles and morals guide me through every situation I encounter.  My judgment shouldn’t be clouded by what someone else says or does.  Because of this lesson, I am now a more confident and secure person.

“There were times were I felt like giving up, and I know many of my peers can say the same thing. But we all made it through those tough days and learned something. Like Winston Churchill once said, ‘Never give up. Never, never, give up! We shall go on to the end.’  And indeed we have made it to the end, for here we stand in front of all of you on the day of our graduation.

“And in behalf of the 2011 class of the Cadet Academy, I’d like to thank all of the cadet advisors and volunteers for supporting us and guiding us throughout the academy and for making this day possible for all of us.”

After the ceremony, everyone participates in a party – which includes cake and coffee.

After their cadet speaker, and the presentation of academic awards, the graduation ceremony commenced. This was following by a swearing-in and closing remarks, and refreshments in the lobby.

If you know a young person who could benefit from this kind of adventure, consider referring them to the Portland Police Bureau Cadet program. To learn more, see their webpage: CLICK HERE to open it.

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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