Eighth graders will soon be able to become North Miami police cadets, and the pilot program to test its possible success will start with students of North Miami Middle School.
On Halloween, Police Chief Marc Elias spoke to the 300 kids who comprise the middle school’s eighth grade class telling them that the North Miami Police Department is extending its cadet program to include junior high students as well as those in high school. Before extending it, however, police will first invite students of North Miami Middle to join as a way of testing the inclusion of more and younger students.
North Miami Middle School students will be able to join the cadet program starting Nov. 12 and it will take place at the North Miami Police Department, 700 NE 124th St.
The cadet program is similar to the dual enrollment that high school students enroll in to gain experience prior to starting college.
“You learn to be leaders,” Officer James Stuart said to the eighth graders who were gathered in the middle school’s gym.
Students with an interest in law enforcement can become cadets to learn more about the field after regular school hours. High school students will be able to mentor their junior high peers.
“It keeps kids out of trouble at a young age,” Elias said last Thursday.
Students who participate are able to patrol parks, direct traffic and possibly work with celebrities. They also can earn community service hours with the program.
“You’re exposed to a whole lot in this program,” Jean-Pierre Calderon also said to the group of students.
Calderon joined the cadet program at 13 when he wanted to be a police officer. He said through the program he was able to meet Miami Heat star LeBron James.
Alberto Iber, principal of North Miami Middle School, said he encourages his students to join the cadet program because of the positive experience students have had with the Police Athletic League program.
“It’s a fantastic program that teaches them discipline, respect and responsibility,” Iber said.
This article was updated to reflect a change in the name of the subject program. Participants are now called police “cadets” instead of “explorers.”