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INDIANAPOLIS — As local police departments struggle to fill open positions, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department is offering young men and women the chance to work alongside law enforcement with the hopes they will eventually end the shortage.
It’s a behind-the-scenes opportunity to see what law enforcement work is really like.
“I want to be a police officer because growing up, I didn’t see any Spanish-speaking officers,” Yasmin Juarez, who is well on her way to becoming a member of law enforcement, said. “I work at southeast district as a PAO, which is a public assistance officer. I take reports for people like stolen medications, runaway reports.”
Juarez's role is crucial and she can communicate with Spanish-speaking community members in stressful situations.
“I’ve already encountered people that don’t speak English, so it’s been very easy for them," Juarez said. "I can transition them to what they have to do.”
All of this, and technically she’s not even a police officer yet. She’s an IMPD cadet. The program allows anyone between 18 and 21 to work in part-time civilian roles so they can one day earn their badge.
“The long range goal is to get a great pool of people so that when they do apply to the police department, they’ve got a step ahead, they’ve got an advantage, they’ve seen what the background of IMPD is like, they’ve got a taste of what police life is like and so they’re that much [more] ahead when they go to apply,” Christine Mannina, IMPD Explorer and Cadet coordinator, said.
Only in its second year, the cadet program already boasts five former cadets well on their way to full-time careers in law enforcement, including two in the police academy. As for Juarez, she hopes she’s one of the next batch of officers.
“Working as a civilian employee, you get to see the behind-the-scenes, so being a police officer is different than what I expected," Juarez said. "But I definitely do want to become an officer.”
IMPD stresses the importance of education, therefore the department is flexible when working with the cadet’s schedules, and only require cadets to work 20 hours a week.
The next round of cadet applications are due this Friday, May 3.