Police Cadets: Cops-in-training facilitate community safety

In exchange for learning about law enforcement, see the many ways these young people help build the community …

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Cadets Nathan Huff and Ryan Mele tell community members about their experiences, at a Commander’s Forum not long ago.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Regular readers have read our coverage of the Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Cadets, and the good work they do in the community.

At a recent Commander’s Forum – a meeting held each month by East Precinct Commander Michael Crebs – a roomful of community members were introduced to the Police Cadets and their work, by their main sponsor, Sgt. Michael Gallagher.

East Precinct’s Sgt. Michael Gallagher tells how the Police Cadet program helps young people prepare for a law enforcement career.

On-scene career training
“The Police Cadet Program helps introduce young people, between the ages of 16 and 20, to a law enforcement career,” began Sgt. Michael Gallagher, the leader of East Precinct’s program.

“The program includes classroom instruction, hands-on training, and mentorship,” Gallagher continued. “When Cadets complete the program, we encourage them to apply to the Portland Police Reserve, and when they’re eligible, with the Portland Police Bureau.”

Giving Cadets an understanding of the criminal justice system, and of the professional ethics applied to law enforcement, are the goals of the program, he added – as well as helping them understand of Oregon laws.

Wide variety of assignments
The program doesn’t relegate the Cadets to backroom clean-up chores, Gallagher said. “Police Cadets work many details and assignments in uniform, and are involved in the following areas of community events and services…”

Although Police Cadets have no police powers, they do provide valuable service to their community while they learn about police work.

On patrol, Cadets do vacation house checks, traffic speed watches, and help out by directing traffic around road hazards, traffic accidents, and crime scenes.

Helping out at the Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division’s “Holiday Deliveries” is one of the many missions for the Police Cadets. Most Cadets volunteer about 90 hours of service monthly.

Police Cadets help maintain order when the LPGA Golf Tournament comes to Portland, assist in loading and delivering Portland Police Bureau Sunshine Division boxes, and help out at community fairs – like the East Precinct Annual Open House, and the Gateway Fun-O-Rama Parade and Gateway Community Fair at 111th Square. Typically, the Gallagher said, Police Cadets volunteer about 90 hours per month for service and community activities.

“An important activity for our Cadets is ‘Underage Alcohol and Tobacco Missions’,” Gallagher reported. “They go into stores, bars, and restaurants, and attempt to buy alcohol. If they’re asked, the Cadets never lie about their age; they show their real driver’s license. Doing this, we help the OLCC cut down on alcohol sales to minors.”

Cadets undergo formal training
Each post has training every week, Gallagher went on. “They are taught how to protect themselves in hand-to-hand situations. And, at our firing range downtown, they learn to shoot various firearms, and are taught firearms safety by the range instructors.”

In addition, Police Cadets learn:

  • Community Policing philosophy;
  • Ethics and decision-making;
  • Cultural awareness;
  • Driving techniques;
  • Crime scene control;
  • Report writing;
  • Oregon laws; and,
  • CPR/First Aid

Sgt. Gallagher narrates videos of past Police Cadet training exercises, and tells about the extensive training program developed for these young people.

Beyond classrooms and schoolbooks
Not all Police Cadet training takes place in the classroom or during a patrol car ride-along. “They learned how to search a house,” said Gallagher. “And how to execute a search warrant. From a field trip to the Police Academy in Salem, to Camp Rilea on the Coast, the cadets get a wide variety of training.”

But it isn’t t all work. They also have softball games, and participate in other fun events, Gallaher added.

‘Clean noses’ a requirement
“We hold the Cadets to a higher standard of conduct,” Gallagher explained, as he turned to the topic of membership requirements. “It’s just as we do for our police officers. For example, they can’t be where underage alcohol is being used, or get traffic tickets.”

Specifically, Portland Cadet recruits:

  • Maintain a “C” grade point average with no failures in high school;
  • Have no arrests or convictions which would prohibit employment as a police officer; and,
  • Are a U.S. citizen, or have a valid green card.

If you know of a young person who would benefit from this program, he or she can get more information by talking with Portland Police Cadet Officers in East Precinct at (503) 823-4836.

And, if you know of a young person in Inner Southeast who would benefit from this program, they can get more information by talking with Portland Police Cadet Officers in SE Precinct at (503) 823-2143. Sgt. Charlie Brown, or Officers Sue Kahut or Tom Kaplan will be happy to tell you more.

Or, download the application form by CLICKING HERE.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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