Indiana University Kokomo

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KOKOMO, Ind. — Andrew Doran and Eddy Chapa will graduate from Indiana University Kokomo with an advantage many other criminal justice students won't have — both will already be experienced police officers.

IU Kokomo Police CadetsIU Kokomo Police Cadets

The two are making history on campus, as the first criminal justice majors chosen for the police cadet program, which started this fall.

"You see a different side of college life when you are a cadet," said Chapa, 36, a senior. "I see this as more of a privilege than a job. I get to go to school and help other students.

Chapa believes the program is an excellent addition to campus because "we can relate more to the students than the other officers. We can bridge the gap between students and police, and relate to both of them."

He sees the cadet program as a stepping-stone to a career as a federal officer, working in customs or border control in his native Texas. He moved to Indiana to be close to his five-year-old daughter.

"To be a federal officer, I need some experience, and the cadet program gives me that," he said. "I will also have a degree, which should make me an even better candidate for the career I want."

Doran, 21, has aspired to be a police officer since he was young. His decision was cemented in 2010, when he was robbed at gunpoint while working at a Kokomo pizza shop.

"That made me want to be in law enforcement even more, so I could prevent another person from going through what I experienced," he said. "This is also something that will help on my résumé when I graduate and start looking for a job."

Doran has found it interesting to apply what he has learned in his criminal justice classes to real life, as he's been on duty. He also learned more about criminal justice and law enforcement when he and Chapa trained in Bloomington during the summer.

"We did physical training, and we learned what we need to know to serve the campus during the cadet year," he said. "I think we help by being another set of eyes and ears on the campus, working to keep people safe."

Each cadet works 12 to 20 hours weekly, answering emergency calls, writing parking tickets, unlocking cars, and providing security at campus events, among other duties.

David Selby, chief of the IU Kokomo Police, said the two cadets will earn 12 credit hours attend the IU Police Academy in Bloomington for 12 weeks during summer 2013. They will then serve a year as campus police officers. When they graduate, they will stand out from other candidates when they search for jobs, because they've already been to the academy.

"Police departments can hire our students and have them start working right away, rather than having to pay to send them to the academy for 12 weeks," Selby said. "They like hiring officers who can be on the street immediately, so it gives these cadets a head start on a job when they graduate. It also benefits our community, because some of our cadets will go on to work as police officers or sheriff deputies in our region."

Selby chose the first two cadets from more than 20 applicants. He plans to select two more cadets for the 2013-2014 school year, after Chapa and Doran go to the academy.

"Our first two cadets are outstanding in maturity, grades, and their sincerity," he said. "They want to be in law enforcement for the right reasons. They want to help people and serve their communities. These are the kind of people you want to have in your police department."

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.