By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE – Two cadets joined the city’s police department in mid-January in a program Chief Brett Selby hopes will help it recruit more officers by exposing young adults to law enforcement careers.
The new cadets are Southgate residents Jacob Bolsley, 22, a senior at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Alexandra Sinani, 18, a freshman at the University of Detroit Mercy.
Selby said the cadets, now in their second week, are learning the administrative functions of the department, including fingerprinting, interfacing with the public on the phone and in the lobby, and directing residents to police resources.
“So far, so good,” Selby said. “We are trying different things with the cadets over and above the program, because the other day they were out at a crime scene – a traffic accident – so not only are they going to do some things in here, but they are going to see what potentially they could be doing as a full-time officer.”
Sinani, who is majoring in criminal justice, hopes the cadet program will help her choose a career path.
She said the program is designed to be flexible with respect to a cadet’s school and extracurricular schedule, which she sees as a plus. As a track and field athlete, she will be able to work hours that don’t conflict with out-of-town sport competitions.
Sinani said a high school track and field coach who worked in law enforcement encouraged her career aspirations.
Sinani, a petite woman, grew up with hockey-playing brothers, which she said “toughened her up,” and she isn’t worried that her size will impact her career aspirations. She said she finds detective work intriguing.
“When we have gone out to different scenes, I have really liked it,” she said. “I like the fact that I get to experience it early on, and actually get some hands-on experience with it.”
Sinani said the cadet program is a great way to start out.
“Not many people get to experience everything we get to experience,” she said. “This is definitely something to get into if you are interested in going into criminal justice. It can get you a foot in the door.”
Bolsley, a criminal justice major, said he has always been interested in law enforcement, and working in loss prevention at a local department store was a turning point for him.
“I got to deal with officers responding when we apprehended shoplifters, and that was it,” he said.
Bolsley said being a police cadet gives him an introduction to police work, and after he graduates from UM-D he plans to attend police academy, and hopes to return to Southgate as a police officer.
He said he likes the idea of serving in his hometown.
“I like the fact that I can serve my community and give back,” he said. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it allows you to get hands-on action.”
Selby said Director of Public Safety Jeffrey Smith has offered his guidance and encouragement to the program, and recognizes the benefit of the cadet program to the city.
Selby said the department has a budget for three cadets, so it hopes to add one more student to the program.
Applicants must be 18 or older, with a high school diploma or GED credential and able to pass a physical examination and drug screening. Enrollment in a college criminal justice or similar program, with a minimum 2.8 grade point average, is required, along with a valid Michigan drivers license and a good driving record, with no felony or serious misdemeanor arrests or traffic violations.
For a complete list of cadet requirements, go to southgatemi.org/index.php?idpage=296.
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)