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Dozens apply to new Syracuse Police Junior Cadet program

A blue sign is surrounded by melting snow on the ground as it stands in front of an office building.
Maxwell Mimaroglu
Paid training will begin in March to help fill Syracuse Police Department's staff shortages and aid retention.

The Syracuse Police Department is interviewing applicants for its new Cadet Program, a 50-week, paid training to help grow the number of new recruits.

Deputy Chief Julie Shulsky, who oversees the program, said a top priority is to address staff shortages.

“We have a really bad staffing crisis, and we’re trying to find ways to fix that issue," she said. "The Cadet Program, I think, is a great gateway to getting people into the department, having them learn about the Syracuse Police Department, building relationships with these potential candidates and getting them in through the civil service process, and then through our hiring process as well.”

Shulsky said there’s been a lot of interest with more than 40 applicants interviewed so far.

Geno Turo, a 20-year veteran of the Syracuse Police Department, now works as a law enforcement instructor with the city school district. He said the department’s offering is a needed next step for his students, who can’t apply to the police academy until taking the civil service exam. The earliest age to take the exam is 19 and half years old.

“There’s a window of time that they would leave my classroom as seniors, most of them around the age of 18. They still can’t take the exam for another year and a half," he said.

Shulsky’s said her hope is for the program to have an impact on retention.

“I’m hopeful that once we get them in the door, and they start making relationships within the department and learning about the Syracuse Police Department and all the opportunities that we have here, that some other smaller agencies or other agencies in the area might not have," she said. "I think that once we get them in the door, we can sell the department and make them want to be a member here.”

March 6 is the program’s target start. Shulsky said all candidates must go through a background check, which could impact the official start date. Cadets will be paid $18 per hour and receive classroom instruction, physical fitness training, and shadowing opportunities.

Chosen individuals must be between the ages of 18 to 34 years old, have a high school diploma or GED, consent to a background check, and have no felony convictions, as well as no unlawful use of controlled substances within the last three years.