Hoping to make an impact with the youth in the community, the Salem Police Department and the City of Salem have started a new program in conjunction with Salem schools.
“A real resource in our community is our children,” said Mayor David Bower, adding that a lot of kids do not have mentors or role models in their lives. “We want to change that. I feel our police department has some of the best role models in our community.” Bower said he got in touch with educators from the school to get their input and opinions and they came up with a plan for a cadet program.
“Troy Merry, being the go-getter that he is, went to work on it,” he said, adding that Assistant Police Chief Joey Wheeler also helped get the program going.
Police Chief Merry said Wheeler is involved with Boy Scouts and in Boy Scouts they have something called an Explorer Program and that’s where they got the idea for the cadet program at the school.
They are looking for students between the ages of 14-20 who have an interest in law enforcement. With a plan to enroll at least 10 students, they will get the opportunity to help with traffic control at local events, including the fair, Old Setters Days, Friday Night on the Square, etc., as well as other minor activities like patrolling the lakes.
“If high school kids want to be police officers, they can get experience and see if this is what they really want to do,” said Merry. “And it helps us get to know this younger generation.”
Bower said over 20 students showed up at the first meeting at Salem Middle School, 17 boys and three girls, which was exciting for everyone involved.
“I think it’s a valuable asset to have a group of kids that take pride in the community,” said Bower.
Students can apply for the cadet program and must have a parent signature in order to participate.
Terry McNeely said police often get too busy to get into the schools and spend time with kids, but it’s important to teach them who they can trust and build a good relationship.
“If we want good relationships, we are going to have to work at it,” he said.