How to become a law enforcement cadet


Becoming a law enforcement cadet is a great move if you want to have a career in law enforcement. Police work is in high demand, which makes it a great career choice in today’s difficult economy. Jobs for law enforcement officers are steadily growing, with new employment opportunities and good paying jobs available for the right candidates.

Becoming a law enforcement cadet can be the first step toward becoming a full-fledged member of a law enforcement team. Cadet programs are designed to transition enrollees into a job as law enforcement officers.

First of all, let’s explore the roll of a law enforcement cadet. Cadet programs are essentially an entrée into law enforcement via an apprenticeship program for people between the age of 18 and 21, although the age requirement varies state-to-state. It offers an opportunity for a young person to explore a career as a law enforcement officer at an age where a career choice is the next step towards full-on adulthood. It’s a great opportunity to see the benefits and challenges of a life in law enforcement so as to determine if one is suited to this career choice.

Law enforcement cadet programs are run by the various local law enforcement departments, so each one has its own rules and requirements. Some offer paid positions; some are full-time while others are part-time and some require the enrollee to be in college while participating.
In order for enrollees to experience the many different aspects of law enforcement, they’re rotated through various law enforcement divisions, such as traffic control, community policing and forensics.

Among other things, a law enforcement cadet learns about firearm use, driving techniques, policing ethics; state and local laws, cultural awareness, decision making, crime scene control; life-saving techniques, and report writing. These are all valuable skills necessary to a career in the field of law enforcement.

Upon completion of the program, selected enrollees can transition into a job as a law enforcement officer.

Since law enforcement cadet programs vary depending on where they take place, here’s an example of how one operates in Portland, Oregon:

The mandate of the Portland law enforcement cadet training program is “For the Cadets to become future Community Policing Officers for the Portland law enforcement Bureau”. The requirements for enrolling are:


• To be between 16 and 20 years old. 

• To have at least a C average in high school with no class failures. 

• To have a clean record with no arrests or convictions that would prevent one from becoming a law enforcement officer.

Applications for the cadet training program are accepted on an ongoing basis. Once accepted, the new cadet goes through classroom instruction, law enforcement training and one-on-one mentorship with law enforcement officers. Cadets are assigned to one of the three Portland precincts where they work in various divisions alongside law enforcement officers. Some of the activities that a law enforcement cadet is involved in are: policing community events such as parades and rallies; going to traffic accident scenes; assisting at crime scenes; doing traffic speed control; and going on ride-alongs with officers. They wear uniforms, but aren’t authorized to make arrests or issue citations.

Once they successfully finish the law enforcement cadet program, enrollees can apply to become full-fledged law enforcement officers.



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