Dover PD Cadets Patrolling Streets of Downtown - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Dover PD Cadets Patrolling Streets of Downtown

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DOVER, Del. (WBOC) - A new program has hit the streets in downtown Dover in hopes of upping police presence in the area. This month six Dover Police Department cadets started patrolling.

The cadets are college-age. They are a not full officers but do have some powers.

On average there are cadets in downtown six days a week, eight hours a day. They deal with things like loitering, open container and excessive noise violations.

Lee Killen, 19, and Thomas Rivera, 20, patrolled downtown Dover Tuesday morning. They both are going to Wilmington University and want to be police officers.

"I like being active in the community. I saw this an opportunity to get a feel for what law enforcement would be like," said Killen.

While they get experience, the hope is downtown gets protection.

"I know a lot of the shop owners have told us that a lot of their problems have gone away just from us walking around in uniform," Rivera said.

Dinos and Darlings is a boutique in downtown. Lynsey Larson is its owner.

"It's been great," she said. "They're just like your friendly neighborhood officers. It's nice in the morning when we're opening up."

The six cadets got 80 hours of training over two weeks before they were deployed downtown.

"They knew what we were going to deal with when we came down here," Killen said. "I feel like they prepared us 100 percent for what we'd experience."

Part of the training included how to appropriately use the items they carry with them - like a taser, pepper spray and handcuffs.

"The things that they're carrying are for their own protection," said Lt. Jason Pires, a spokesperson for Dover PD. "We are having them do limited enforcement. Sometimes in those situations a confrontation could occur."

Pires says the cadets can enforce city ordinances but cannot make arrests.

"Per policy, they're not allowed to make actual, physical arrests," Pires said. "So, in those situations they're trained to just be a good witness for us, be a good observer and just call officers to come in and take the appropriate enforcement action."

As an example recently cadets saw two people go into a one-person bathroom.

"They believed some possible drug activity was going on in the bathroom," said Pires. "They called one of our officers. They stood by until one of our officers responded. The officer went into the bathroom, actually made an arrest, seized some heroin."

Pires says there has been a decrease in the number of complaints downtown over the past few weeks thanks to these cadets, and that's freed up full officers to handle bigger things in other areas.

With lots of issues of police brutality around the country, including in Dover, over the past year, there have been concerns about having young people on patrol.

One of the people express that concern was Dover Councilman Roy Sudler. But he says so far he's been impressed with the cadets though he's reserving full judgment on the program until it has been around longer.

Dover PD actually used cadets back in the 1970's and are just now bringing them back.

The program costs the city $50-60,000 a year. Just one newly-hired full-time officer costs $84,000 a year in salary and benefits.

Right now, the department says it's working to hire three more cadets for the program in Dover.

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