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Syracuse looking for $500K boost to police cadet program

A sign in front of a building reads "City of Syracuse Police Department."
Maxwell Mimaroglu
A blue sign identifies the Syracuse Police Department in downtown Syracuse, Feb. 16, 2022.

The Syracuse Police Department is hoping to get some help from a federal agency to address an ongoing shortage of officers. 

The Syracuse Common Council on Monday is set to approve an application seeking a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. The funds would go toward an expansion of the Syracuse Police Department's cadet program, a post-high school pathway to bridge the gap between graduation and the minimum age of 19.5 years old required to take the police officer civil service exam.

The program is seen as another tool to help the department boost recruitment and bolster its ranks, and the grant could increase the budget by more than five fold.

Deputy Chief Julie Shulsky said the department generated a lot of interest in the program using social media, but they’re always seeking more candidates.

“As the steps to become a cadet, whether it be just an application, the interview or the background process, at times, a lot of people had dropped out whether they didn't show up for the interview or whatever. We are down to 20 applicants—we're trying to fill at least 15 spots," Shulsky said.

Those enrolled include four city residents and 16 county residents. Some members of the Syracuse Common Council expressed concern that some of the candidates may choose to pursue career with other departments even though they’re training with the Syracuse agency.

Shulsky said there’s always that chance, but that it’s still a good opportunity to establish that initial bond.

“We share the civil service lists with every agency in this county, so we want to put our best foot forward with these individuals and have them have the connections and the relationships with the officers and our personnel in the department. Because I think that we do have the premier agency here, and that's how we're going to sell it and how we're going to get more police officers in our department," Shulsky said.

Shulsky says the current cadet pool would help to diversify the Syracuse department The hope is that the cadets will stay on to take the civil service exam, which is offered every spring and fall.

Councilors will take up the grant application measure at their 1 p.m. Monday meeting.

The city officials will also consider using $500,000 to offset the cost of constructing five single-family homes on the Near Westside, which is part of Mayor Ben Walsh's ongoing efforts to construct 50 affordable homes in the city.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at