The program is called the Hillsboro Police Cadet Program, but despite the name it’s not necessarily about training people to become police officers. In fact, according to Lt. Mike Rouches, spokesman for the Hillsboro Police Department, only a small portion of those who enter the program end up doing HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Michael Schrader, who wears No. 44 as a linebacker for Linfield College, hopes to go into law enforcement after graduating from the McMinnville school. He is a member of the Hillsboro Police Cadet Program, and his father, Ted Schrader, is a sergeant with the Hillsboro Police Department.

“Most of our cadets don’t become police officers with the Hillsboro Police Department,” Rouches said. “In the 20 years I’ve been here, we’ve probably had a couple hundred cadets, and Hillsboro PD has probably hired four or five of them.”

More than simply being a pipeline to bring in new police officers, the program teaches citizenship and responsibility, and Rouches said he believes that is the correct approach.

“The program is not indoctrination, ‘You must be a cop,’” Rouches explained. “Some cadets do become cops, but the object is not to grow cops but to grow good citizens. The program provides a good example of how to serve, and what’s important.”

Hillsboro resident Michael Schrader, now a freshman at Linfield College, is one of the current group of cadets. Schrader has actively participated in the cadet program since June 2011, and he is one of the relative few who intends to go on to serve as a police officer.

“My dad is a police officer with the Hillsboro Police Department,” Schrader said. “I have aspirations of doing that myself, and this helps me get my foot in the door for a law enforcement career.”

Schrader pointed out that his family has a history of law enforcement service. In addition to his father’s (Sgt. Ted Schrader) career with the Hillsboro Police Department, he pointed out that his grandfather was a police officer in Detroit, Mich.

Schrader, who plays linebacker on Linfield’s football team, said he plans to become a police officer after he graduates. But even if he decides to go into a different field, he believes he is learning important values.

“There are a lot of life skills coming out of the program,” he said. “It definitely teaches leadership skills, and it helps me with time management.”by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHASE ALLGOOD - Before heading off to Linfield College and joining the Wildcats football team, police cadet Michael Schrader (right) was a star wrestler at Glencoe High School. In February, Schrader won the district title and qualified for the state tournament.

Rouches said he is proud of the program, and chuckled as he recalled the way the program used to be structured.

“In the old days, they had you washing police cars and gassing them up,” Rouches said with a laugh. “It’s changed, so the cadets actually learn things now.”

Rouches should know: He pointed out that he got his start in law enforcement as a police cadet.

“Hillsboro’s cadet program has been around for about 30 years,” said Rouches. “It’s bigger now than it used to be.”

It’s not only bigger, but also more fulfilling for those who sign up.

“The cadets are advised by regular police officers,” Rouches said. “They spend time mentoring and training the kids.”

And although the majority do not become police officers, many do tap their training to go into allied fields — for example, serving as probation officers, emergency dispatchers or enforcement officers for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.

Hillsboro’s Police Cadet Program is open to citizens, male or female, between the ages of 15 and 21, and according to Rouches, the number of cadets constantly fluctuates.

“There is no minimum or maximum number of cadets that can be enrolled at any one time,” he said.

Hillsboro City Manager Michael Brown said he believes the city’s cadets are among the best in the state.

“We have an amazing cadet program here, and it’s no surprise Hillsboro cadets cleaned house at this year’s Law Enforcement Challenge at Camp Rilea in Warrenton,” said Brown.

In August, Brown explained, 181 police cadets from throughout the region competed in a variety of events at Camp Rilea.

Hillsboro’s cadets came away with top honors in several categories, including crime scene investigation, marksmanship and courtroom COURTESY PHOTO - Members of the Hillsboro Police Cadet Program pose after competing in a series of Law Enforcement Challenge activities at Camp Rilea in Warrenton in August.

Schrader, a member of a four-person team that took third place in sharpshooting, said he enjoyed going up against cadets from other communities.

“It was an awesome event,” Schrader said. “It let us see how our law enforcement training stacked up against other cadet posts. It showed us we have one of the top posts in the state.”

Recruitment for Hillsboro’s Police Cadet Program, which takes place once a year, is currently under way. Applications are available at the east or west precinct offices in Hillsboro or on the HPD website. The recruitment process is open through the end of October.

Schrader said those curious about serving as a police officer should consider the cadet program.

“I definitely recommend the program to anyone interested in law enforcement or interested in what law enforcement is like,” he said. “It gives you a first-hand look at what police officers do, and you see the whole perspective — not just the action, but the homework and report writing.”

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