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Wausau police seek to recruit new public safety cadets

Published: Feb. 12, 2021 at 4:53 PM CST
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - High school students responded to a domestic violence call in Wausau Thursday night; It was actually a simulation by the Public Safety Cadet Program at the Wausau Police Department. The program aims to give teens and young adults interested in a career in law enforcement an idea of what they may encounter. It also provides the tools to do so.

“If it comes down to certain sensitive crimes, while we talk about them we’re not going to go into great detail about it, purely from the standpoint that it’s a sensitive issue and people handle things differently,” said Officer Ross Austin. He acknowledged that these scenarios might be uncomfortable and said the program tried to be sensitive to everyone involved in the re-creation.

The cadet program goes on year-round, and there is no set time to join. Applicants can jump into the program when they are ready.

“If you’re interested in stuff like criminal justice or anything in law enforcement, this program gives you all of that information that you can’t get anywhere else, and you get to meet people with those similar interests,” said Cadet Josie Parent.

Officer Austin says the classes are a combination of classroom learning and the scenarios. He also said the greatest tool the cadets can learn from the program is how to talk to the public when out on a call. He said talking is the majority of the job.

Before COVID-19 hit, cadets got to test their skills against other groups from around Wisconsin.

“Pre-COVID, there was a state competition where they would actually be graded, and multiple teams throughout the state would actually participate and there’d be a ranking. There’s awards and all that, so the scenarios are to prepare them for that,” said Austin.

He said he looks forward to the day those could resume.

Parent told me she does miss the chance to compete but more so is the chance to be in the community. She says the community service work she has done with Paws and Protect, Rib and Balloon Fest and even chaperoning elementary school outings has been the most rewarding thing.

She initially thought she wanted to be a forensic anthropologist, but changed her mind after joining the program.

“And I realized just how much I love being in the community, and doing a little bit more of an active role, and that’s when I decided to switch from the science side to more of the physical side, being an officer,” she said.

If you want to join the program, you can visit their website.

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