TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) - A popular program is showing young people what really goes on behind the scenes at the Tallahassee Police Department.
When it comes to police work, there's a lot the general public doesn't understand. Over the past few years, officer-involved shootings and other issues at police departments haven't always put the badge in the best light, but that isn't turning students off to TPD's cadet program.
"I've been wanting to be a cop since I was little," said Daniel O'Connell, a Tallahassee Police Cadet since age 14. Now, seven years later, he's ready to graduate the program and become an officer. He helped answer questions about the cadet program at an open house Tuesday night.
"We teach the cadets here everything from legal to how to do a traffic stop, how to work a crime scene.," said O'Connell. "Everything a police officer encounters in their day-to-day lives, they will learn here."
According to the Tallahassee Police Department, the program is open for anyone ages 14 to 21 who has a GPA of "C" or better. Once in the program, cadets meet Tuesdays from 7:00-9:00 p.m.
Some students use the program as a way to fulfill community service hours, while others join to find out if a career as a cop is a good fit.
The cadets spend a lot of time at the department, learning in the classroom. Once they cover the behind-the scenes details, they get hands-on demonstrations in the field.
Investigator Evan Alwine, the program's head advisor, says even if they're not going into law enforcement, the lessons learned make the cadets better community leaders.
"It helps build confidence in a lot of people," said Alwine. "Through the work that we do, through the interactions that we have, it can help some of them become more outgoing. That's probably my favorite part."
"I was that typical 14-year-old that was shy, didn't really want to talk to many people and this program really helps you become more social," said O'Connell.
If you couldn't make it to Tuesday night's open house, you can still join the Tallahassee Police Department's cadet program. They'll be accepting new cadets throughout the next couple of weeks. You can either show up at one of the upcoming Tuesday night sessions at TPD or contact Alwine at (850) 891-4577 or Evan.Alwine@talgov.com.