It’s 11 p.m. on a Saturday along Morgantown’s High Street. There’s no shortage of West Virginia University students in sight, but not all of them are out for a night on the town with their friends.

Some of them are University Police cadets, sampling what a career in law enforcement might be like, or just working their way through school.

The cadet program started five years ago as an initiative between the UPD and the Student Government Association and has since grown into an effective learning tool for WVU undergraduate students seeking to work in law enforcement.

Click below to hear WVU Police Chief Bob Roberts talk about the background of the cadet program and the role of cadets in monitoring the campus for the department.

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“We started as a two-fold project: one was to get extra eyes and ears out on the street, the other was also to give students the opportunity to see what working in this environment really is,” said UPD Chief Bob Roberts. “Our greatest fear was that we wouldn’t get enough students to participate but that’s never been a problem.”

The program had five cadets when it was started in 2006. That number has since grown to 20.

“I enjoy the environment and the atmosphere of the police department,” said cadet Anthony Alger, a criminology major and president of the WVU Sociology Anthropology Criminology Association. “All the officers are very nice and we’re very serious about our work but at the same time we can joke around and have a laid back atmosphere.”

Click below to hear Greg Byers, a criminology major from Fairfax, Va., describe the role of the cadet and how he thinks the experience will help with his future plans.

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The cadets take to the streets during the night and early mornings – typically Thursday through Saturday from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. – and help the UPD manage key coverage areas. Each cadet receives training in CPR, first aid, radio operation and self-defense tactics before they begin working the streets.

The primary duties of the cadets are foot patrols, safety issues, reporting crimes in progress and community policing. The cadets may also volunteer to assist the UPD in areas of traffic and crowd control during large events like concerts or football games.

“A lot of the cadets are majoring in criminology and other law enforcement fields so it’s a great learning experience,” said Greg Byers, a student cadet of three semesters and criminology major.

Cadets operate in pairs or in groups of three to supervise probationary cadets.

Click below to hear WVU Police Sgt. Kenny Main talk about the background of the cadet program and the benefits student-cadets receive through the experience and what they bring to the department and campus.

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“Our primary goal is the downtown area but we always try and put one team up at Towers to manage crowds at the bus stop,” said Sergeant Kenny Main, the UPD’s supervising officer of the cadets. “It’s really a great program; it’s very good for the police and very positive for the community. Sometimes I wonder how much harder it would be for this department to do our job on the weekends without those guys.”

“I like it because it gives the officers, particularly at nighttime, a different interaction with students than the one they normally get,” said Roberts.

Three of the cadets who worked the program have gone on to work for the UPD. Some of the cadets enroll in the program to keep tradition alive.

“I have three uncles that are cops now, my dad has been a probation/parole officer for the last 12 years and I have another uncle that is a detective,” said cadet Richard Mason Hall, also a criminology major. “I wanted to get a foot in the door for later opportunities and it seemed like a great job to have while you’re in college.”

Click below to hear Richard Mason Hall, a criminology major from Princeton, W.Va., talk about his background and the career and educational benefits of being in the WVU Police cadet program.

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Hall intends to pursue a career as a state trooper. Alger said he had an uncle who worked for the Richmond Police Department in his home state of Virginia. Alger himself is leaving for National Guard training in January but expressed interest to work as a dispatcher for the department in the summer when he returns. He hopes to make career in law enforcement.

Cadets also face challenges doing police work as students in a college town.

“If you get someone in trouble and you go to class the next day and that person is in your class, there tends to be tension,” Hall said. “There is also the time frame. It’s kind of hard to adapt to it but once you do, you’re good after the first few weekends.”

“Sometimes other students might make fun of you for working with the police,” said Kyle Freshwater, another cadet and international studies major. “However, at the same time it’s like ‘I’m getting paid for this so what are you doing?’” Freshwater joined the cadets because he wanted to get a feel for the law enforcement side of his major. Many people in his field of study have led careers in the FBI or CIA.

Like the officers of the UPD, the student cadets have pride and satisfaction in their duties around campus.

“You get to help people more on a personal level than say what you would as a tech support at the library or desk position at a company. It’s more direct and you get results faster,” Freshwater said.

Hall and Freshwater said they were proudest of the time they assisted a fellow student who got into an altercation outside Colson Hall last year and because of their training they know exactly what to do and how to help him.

“I enjoy helping people; keeping people safe. I know it’s clich� but it’s rewarding,” Hall said.



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