Program for those 16 to 21 provides police training

If you’re between 16 and 21 and thinking about a career in law enforcement, a good place to start is the Gresham Police Cadet Unit.

Several cadets already have moved on to become Gresham police officers, said Detective Sgt. Bob Fay, including himself, sending his life in the right direction.

“Personally, I could have gone either way, but it changed me,” he said. “I went to college with the goal of becoming a police officer, and I think it helps a lot of kids in a lot of ways. And just like any after-school activity, it keeps them occupied.”

Costs for the program are minimal for the police department, which supplies uniforms and radios. Cadets can buy a lot of other equipment including duty belts, flashlights, handcuffs, boots and patrol gloves, which can get expensive.

The program doesn’t have a lot of funds, so the cadets are holding a car wash to raise money for supplies at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 12, at police headquarters on Northwest Eastman Parkway.

The money raised will help the cadets buy good flashlights, which they’ll share, and for attending Camp Rilea in Warrenton this summer where they learn more about law enforcement and public safety.

The cadets, including boys and girls, or young men and young women, donate a lot of time to help their city, Fay said.

“There was an accident on New Year’s Eve five or six years ago, and the kids blocked traffic for several hours,” he said.

According to the program brochure, cadets also help with traffic control at parades and civic events, work in public relations at fairs and expositions, provide security at crime scenes, ride with patrol officers, attend training classes and competitions and conduct tours of the police department.

The program requires two meetings and 20 hours of volunteer time each month, and cadets get real-life training. Fay said his son has been through the cadet program, and his 15-year-old daughter plans to do the same.

“It’s great for your résumé later in life,” he said.

Being a cadet provides a chance to build up a lot of volunteer hours while learning what officers actually do.

Later this summer, Aug. 8-11, the cadets will have a chance to attend camp at the Camp Rilea Armed Forces Training Facility, on the coast between Astoria and Seaside.

While there the cadets will use its training facilities, barracks and mock city, called a MOUT site, for Military Operations in Urban Terrain. Camp Rilea is used as a training location for law enforcement agencies and military units throughout the Northwest, according to its website (

Fay said Hillsboro’s cadet program recently came into $1 million, bequeathed by a local man, that has given their program a lot of luxuries, including a trailer and better equipment. Gresham cadets share flashlights and use second-hand protective vests, but they make the most of what they have, he said.

“Our chief has been very supportive, and he’s hired several former cadets since he’s been here,” he said.

The cadets will start an intense 12-week training program in a couple of weeks, Fay said, where they spend their Saturdays in police academy training that will include firearms, defensive tactics, dealing with domestic violence and more. The class will be held in conjunction with the Clackamas Sheriff’s Office with students from all over the area.

“They come in every Saturday morning, and I’m really impressed,” he said. “A lot of high school kids come in, and these are kids in athletics, choir and other types of events, but they come every Saturday from 8 to 5. It takes great dedication.”

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