The Washburn University Cadet Program has been offering an opportunity for students who are looking to learn more about law enforcement or criminal justice, while still being able to focus on their studies and expand their knowledge.
The program is always looking to recruit cadets and the process of applying mirrors what one would expect to experience when applying to become a full-fledged police officer. The students will start with submitting their application to Sergeant Wolf, the supervisor of the cadet program. Then they follow up by attending board meetings and are given background checks and fingerprint examinations by the officers at Washburn.
Once the applicants are processed, they begin their journey to discover more about the law enforcement life. The program allows students to train under the supervision of the officers at WUPD, including patrolling the campus, doing building clear-outs, traffic control and having in-depth training on the law enforcement routine here on campus.
Not sure if you’re interested in law enforcement? No problem. This program both highlights students’ strengths and helps to develop them by teaching them the process and letting them explore their interest in criminal justice and law enforcement.
Katie Hensler is a senior that just graduated with a bachelor’s in forensic investigation and is looking to graduate in the spring with a degree in Spanish. She started the cadet program her freshman year and has truly exercised the benefits that it has to offer.
Many people going through the program realize that while being in law enforcement is quite a responsibility and requires a lot of critical thinking skills, it also delves into the growth of emotions and development of trust. After getting the opportunity to talk to Cadet Lt. Katie Hensler, she explained how the program teaches her more than what you’d expect.
When asked about the process, Cadet Hensler stated, “There’s also the emotional process of learning how to trust others and getting used to the environment, which is what I focus on from my perspective. I see it as more of an emotional and mental growth over time.”
The program is beneficial not only for the students, but also the community of Washburn. The Cadet Program binds together the student community with WUPD, giving a sense of connection between the students and the officers.
The student’s success is supported by the staff of WUPD, including Police Chief Chris Enos who plays a significant role in the cadet program. The cadets have a follow up interview with Chief Enos after they complete the application process and with his help and the staff around him, the students can participate in the officer’s activities, giving them hands on experience to either prepare them for a life in law enforcement or simply giving them the opportunity to learn more about their passions.
Chief Enos spoke about what it’s like for students who are wanting to move forward after the program. He stated that, “Our hope is students who have participated in the program gain exposure to law enforcement and consider it as a career option. For some students that will mean going on to work in law enforcement, and their experiences as a cadet will help them as they make that transition into the workforce.”
This quote spoke to just how much the leaders of the cadet program care for the student’s career in the long run, providing them guidance, not only for those who are certain, but for those who are uncertain about the career as well.
Chief Enos and Cadet Lt. Hensler both shined a light on the importance for both sides; for the students who are there to learn about their career and those who are there to explore it.
Those who support the students in the program are incredibly proud to support their passion and watch these students grow as their experience gains. Many students who participated in the program have moved on to successful careers in law enforcement. The lobby in WUPD’s office on campus even has a display of patches from agencies around the country where former cadets are now working.
Students will continue to work on their skills for years to come, keeping the strong partnership with WUPD and the Washburn community.
“It’s a program that helps a wide range of people, I think multiple people would benefit from the program not just those who want to go into a police department. If you’re considering it, go through the process because you will gain something from it,” said Hensler.
Edited by: Matthew L. Self