The San Mateo Police Cadet Program participates in a variety of events throughout the year.
For youth looking for a program that gives them an inside look into the experiences of those in the police department, the San Mateo Police Cadet Program is a perfect start.
The program, which has been around for decades and is under the umbrella of Boys Scouts of America, allows high school and college students to see firsthand how police departments function in the community. Cadets are community service volunteers between 14 and 21 interested in learning, training and participating in a wide variety of law enforcement functions and activities.
San Mateo police Officer Laura Sharp has been a volunteer with the program for five or six years.
“It’s a program that allows them to develop leadership skills, community service, discipline, responsibility, character development, confidence and education,” said Sharp, who has been the cadet coordinator for two years. “I want my cadets to continue through and get a college education before they become a police officer. … It wouldn’t be successful if (San Mateo Police Chief) Susan Manheimer did not support it fully; she allows us to use all the facilities, equipment and provides support.”
Cadets attend regularly scheduled meetings each month and graduate from the Peninsula Law Enforcement Explorers Academy within one year of joining the program. Each new cadet must go through a 100-hour training at the Explorer Academy, which is held at the Public Safety Academy at College of San Mateo. This training, as well as further training, includes a variety of topics including accident investigation; arrest and control techniques; communications (dispatch); CPR and first aid; ethics; crime scene investigation; the criminal justice system; patrol procedures; physical training; human relations; history of law enforcement; firearms safety and familiarity; and narcotics.
Many of cadets move on to become police officers in San Mateo and other agencies and have also been hired as parking enforcement representatives, dispatchers, administrative assistance, community service officers and records specialists at the San Mateo Police Department.
San Mateo police Officer Andrew Trujillo is one such example. He participated in the cadet program from 2002-2008.
“It was always something I wanted to do,” said Trujillo, who began in the cadet program when he was 15. “I took it and ran with it from there. The main benefit was giving you the whole scope of law enforcement and what it entails. … Quite a few use it as a stepping stone.”
The cadets also participate in a yearly Explorer Challenge when they compete against other agencies in a variety of police investigative scenarios. San Mateo police Officer Nicole Von Glahn, another graduate of the cadet program, helps out with these challenges and does presentations on gang awareness and prevention. She joined the program at age 16.
“At that point, I was at a fork in the road and trying to figure out what to do,” she said. “I didn’t know what it entailed other than what I saw in movies and that’s not realistic. I honed skills to try to get into law enforcement. … I put myself through the police academy and I honestly think the relationships (fostered during the cadet program) and hard work really paid off because they ended up hiring me.”
Cadets assist at National Night Out events, do traffic control for events in San Mateo, help with child fingerprintings at events and help the San Mateo Police Activities League with activities. Their latest work will be at 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22 at the Family Resources Fair at Hillsdale Shopping Center, 60 E. 31st Ave. in San Mateo in Macy’s Center Court. Cadets will fingerprint kids for free there.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 105