KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Knoxville is creating a new cadet program for people who are interested in applying for the police academy when they turn 21 years old.
“Basically the program is for young folks from 18-21 years old, who are looking to get into law enforcement,” said Police Chief Mark Fortner. “They come in and do base-level police things such as help with traffic direction, write parking tickets, take reports and really just any base-level tasks we need to be done.”
The city council met on March 22 to discuss the budget and main goal for the new program.
The budget for the new program is around $420,000 annually which seemed to only concern council member Amelia Parker.
“My concern is that we are asked to approve an additional $420,000 annually but we are not given any clear information on the success rate of the program and why it is worth this amount of spending,” said council member Parker.
Chief Fortner and Mayor Kincannon reassured Parker by mentioning that the program will help with the washout rate in the academy because it will allow the cadets time to figure out if this is the career for them before it is too late.
Parker also raised concerns that the program is too similar to the free Exploring Program that the Boy Scouts of America use without the $420,000 needed to fund the cadet program.
“The cadet program are paid employees who work for the city,” said Chief Fortner. “The Exploring Program is through the Boy Scouts of America which is completely voluntary and we are limited to what we can use them for. They have no enforcement or authority at all. They are kids from 14-20 years old who help us with special events.”
According to the city of Knoxville’s website, the cadet program will allow the cadets to go through a one-month training academy before they are assigned to help with the following list:
-Traffic Control at special events
-Help with KPD recruitment efforts
-Underage alcohol buys
-Assist sworn Patrol Officers with various assignments
-Take calls/reports from citizens in the teleservice unit
The council pointed out that the Boy Scouts end around the age of 18 and to join the police force you must be 21 years old. The cadet program will allow those interested to continue training before they head off to the academy.
The first class of cadets, in 1992, had 11 people of which six have retired and five still remain with the Knoxville police department.
There are currently seven cadets, with two signing up for the program next week which will raise the number to nine. There is a total of 384 officers in the entire department.
The goal is to have at least 24 cadets go through the program and then go through the academy after having the proper training to do so to become police officers. They hope that this will help lower the number of academy dropouts in the future.