KOKOMO, Ind. — As a middle school student in Frankfort, Dallas Snell admired the police officers he saw patrolling the streets, seeing them as role models.
“I wanted to be like them when I grew up, and have their character,” he said. “I really looked up to them because they are always up front with you, respectful, and know how to talk to people.”
In January, as Snell began his final semester at Indiana University Kokomo, he achieved his long-time goal, beginning his career as an officer with the Frankfort Police Department.
“This means everything to me,” he said. “It’s been a life-long dream, and I finally got it. It’s created a pathway for me to set up the rest of my life.”
His experience as a cadet on campus, plus his degree in criminal justice, gave him the edge when he applied.
“Having my college degree nearly completed put me ahead, and I earned my law enforcement certificate, too,” said Snell. “Not only am I graduating, but I have already been to the police academy, which means I can begin field training immediately.”
The IU Police Department’s cadet program gives students hands-on experience working in law enforcement while in college. He worked part-time during the 2017-2018 school year answering emergency calls, writing parking tickets, unlocking cars, and providing security at campus events.
During summer 2018, Snell attended the IU Police Academy in Bloomington for 16 weeks, earning accreditation as a state certified law enforcement office with full police credentials. Snell appreciates the mentoring he received from IUPD-Kokomo officers.
“As someone starting out in a profession, you want to pick up on what the more veteran officers know from experience,” he said. “ I learned how to interact with the community, and what it’s like to be a police officer. I came in to my first job more prepared that people who are brand new to law enforcement.”
Snell now balances 12-hour shifts on duty with his last three classes to complete his degree, noting he’s taken advantage of online classes to make it more doable. When he’s on duty, he’s paired with a field training officer.
“There’s never a boring moment,” Snell said. “There’s always something new, something different, unique situations. It’s just exciting.”
He’s enjoying working for his community and learning from his training officer — especially when he had the chance to visit an elementary school and meet the children.
“I had officers help me when I was young, and now I want to be that role model for the kids,” he said. “When you talk with them, you never know the impact you might make. You might help them trust police officers, or even want to be one someday.”
He’s excited to begin his career in his hometown, which had always been his goal.
“I feel like I’ve put a lot of hard work into this and it’s finally come together and paid off,” he said. “It’s nice to look back on when I told my high school friends I wanted to be a Frankfort police officer, and now I can tell them I made it.”
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.