ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Albany Police Department is now accepting applications for a paid cadet program. The internship opportunity, funded through a Community Development Block Grant, is designed to target and attract minorities and women with hopes that they embark on a career in law enforcement.
Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins told NEWS10 ABC that, as a young man of color, he had no desire to become a police officer.
“It just wasn’t something that I ever thought I would ever do,” he said.
That’s until he learned of a similar program being offered near his hometown in Michigan. As a college student, paying his own way through school, he found out about a paid police cadet program that also offered tuition assistance.
He said that lured him in, but it was the experience and the opportunities that kept him there. He would eventually go on to have a successful and meaningful career and rising to the rank of Chief.
“Once I got into it I started to see that there really was a path for me to make a difference,” said Chief Hawkins.
Now he’s hoping that young men and women living in the city of Albany will be just as intrigued by the department’s new career development cadet program.
“For a lot of young men and women of color, their exposure and their perceptions of law enforcement are negative, but yet, they haven’t had a chance to see how it really is for themselves,” said Chief Hawkins.
The Community Development Block Grant is designed to target low to moderate income individuals. The department will be able to hire four cadets at $15 per hour. They will also be able to help out with some college expenses such as books, if needed. Applicants do not have to have a degree or be enrolled in college, however, they must be 18-32 years old and live in the city of Albany, have a valid drivers license, undergo a background check, and will need the flexibility to work nights, holidays and weekends.
“The community has been telling us for years that they want to see more officers of color in the police department. They want the officers to represent the community,” said Chief Hawkins.
The cadets will participate in several ride-alongs, sit-in on some of the police academy classes, and work closely with officers who will, in turn, become their mentors. Chief Hawkins said the program will also prepare participants to sit for the required Civil Service exam to become an Albany police officer, should they so desire.
“We can always promote them to the police academy at any time so there are no hard limits on how long they can be in the program,” said Chief Hawkins.
Chief Hawkins told NEWS10 the innovative program was in the works long before the recent civil unrest and calls for police reform, but he said now is the time for these young men and women to apply and be part of the change they want to see.
“As this reform movement is taking shape in law enforcement across the country, they can come in and see how they fit within that process and how they can make a difference in the years to come.”
The Chief said within weeks of announcing the program, they’ve received dozens of applications. They are hoping to have their first group hired by September.
“I’m very confident that once we get them in here we’ll have very few who decide that this isn’t what they want to do. I think the overwhelming majority of the young men and women who join us will join us as police officers and will work in this community for years to come,” said Chief Hawkins.
The Chief added that while they are currently only accepting four cadets, he sees the program growing over the years, potentially tripling that number. He also said that if a cadet drops out of the program because they decide it’s not for them, they will bring in the next person on the list to make sure all the slots are continuously filled.
The Albany Police Department has offered summer youth cadet programs in the past, but they were geared towards high school students, ages 14 to 18 years old.
More information about the Police Cadet Paid Internship and how those interested can apply is available at jobs.albanyny.gov .
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