It is nothing new to hear that 2016 was a rough year for law enforcement officers.
As of Dec. 28, 2016, according to the Officer Down Memorial page, officers killed by gunfire was up 59% from 2015. Here in Chandler, our police department is extremely fortunate to enjoy such a close and supportive relationship with our community. We take this to the next level by employing one of the nation’s top youth programs, the Chandler Police Cadets.
For 30 years, this program has provided opportunities for teens and young adults to serve their community alongside their police department. Participants are not expected to pursue a career in law enforcement, though many do. Instead, the program focuses on developing these youths into our future professionals.
Chandler Police Cadets allows the teens and young adults to serve their community, develop leadership and supervisory skills, compete in law-related competitions, participate in team building exercises and more. Many program participants continue their education in college or vocational programs and enter several professional careers. Chandler Police Cadets alumni have gone on to become nurses, accountants, teachers, paralegals, pilots, police officers, firefighters and the list goes on.
Funding for the day-to-day operations and special opportunities for this program are all self-generated. Meaning, the Chandler Police Cadets rely heavily on fundraising. Much of our fundraising takes place in mid-January, at the 19th Chandler Tactical Competition.
Competitors from across the United States travel to participate in the three-day competition. This year, competitors are traveling from far away as Minnesota and Illinois. The cadets will host 59 teams from 56 police agencies traveling for the chance at more than 125 trophies. All the participants in this event are peers of the Chandler Police Cadets, and contribute the same level of support in their departments and communities. This annual event also allows the future of law enforcement and public safety to develop friendships and contacts that will support their development and success for years to come.
The annual competition does so much more to benefit the greater Chandler area than just helping fund our program. The travelers support Chandler’s economy with purchases at hotels, fuel stations, restaurants, entertainment and more. A conservative estimate suggests nearly $240,000 are spent in Chandler businesses during the three-day weekend. Furthermore, it is not only Chandler that benefits from this event each year, but police agencies from nearby states as well. In 2015, it was the first year agencies realized this event in Chandler brought together the best-of-the-best in the future of law enforcement. Sheriff and police departments have now started sending recruitment personnel to the event each year in hopes of finding their next great employee.
Across the board, the Chandler Police Cadet program is doing great things for our police department, our community and our peers in public safety. It is a privilege to serve, and a blessing to have such incredible support from the Chandler community.
Officer John Somerville
Chandler Police Department
Police Explorer Director