Six high school students join cadet pilot-program
May 28, 2003 — Billy Kenyon's watched "Cops," the popular TV show driven by the real-life drama of officers on the beat.
And he likes it.
"Watching the show all the time — seeing the things they do — makes me want to chase down bad guys," says the 16-year-old sophomore from Culver High School.
Kenyon and five others are the newest faces to the Culver Police Department. They've enrolled in the city's cadet program.
But chasing down bad guys won't be in the cards.
"They're explorer scouts, basically," said Lee Farrester, Culver's Chief of Police.
These six young men and women will have the opportunity to observe police work firsthand. They'll shadow Culver's chief and six reserve officers, doing ride-alongs and observing the office work behind walking the beat.
As equally important, the kids will be representatives of the city at parades and other events.
The youngsters won't have a badge, gun or an officer's uniform. They'll be outfitted in black jeans and white polo shirts.
"I want the public to know they are not enforcement officers and won't be used in that capacity whatsoever," Farrester said.
The pilot program was the brainchild of Reserve Cpl. John Ford. As a church youth group volunteer and an outreach officer to the Culver schools, he found there was a lot of interest in such a program.
"The grand purpose is to educate this younger generation that wants to become officers," Ford said.
The cadets will set their own hours. Ford will host a regular meeting once a month and it will be up to the youths to work at their own pace — but not past 10 p.m., of course, on school nights.
There's no endpoint for the cadet program, which was eligible for youths between the ages of 16 and 21. Ford said he hopes the cadets will stay with the program through high school.
The Culver Police Department originally intended to bring aboard four cadets, but because of more interest the department took on six. They include sophomores Kenyon, Bree Miller, Brandon Noak, Nikkosha Jones, Preston Parker and senior Zach Henson.
Noak said he heard about the program during morning announcements.
"After high school I'm probably going to go into the Marines and after that a career as a police officer would be great," he said.
Miller, an animal enthusiast, said she also has an interest in becoming an officer.
"I want to be a canine cop when I'm older," she said.
Ford said he finds his own excitement in the program through the excitement the kids have shown toward law enforcement.
"They're so pumped about it," Ford said. "They want me to make arrests every five minutes but I can't."