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The Community College of Aurora (CCA) and the Aurora Police Department (APD) have joined forces for a transformative program that will fast-track dedicated individuals into well paying careers and will allow them to serve the community where they live. The Cadet Program offers students the opportunity to earn their associate degree, and join the APD, with the cost of their school paid for after they complete the program and meet all the requirements. CCA’s Digital Content Coordinator, Mike Mestas spoke with APD Agent Danno Singleton to learn more about what this program has to offer. Listen to the interview by clicking the play button above. 

Talk about this partnership between the APD and CCA. What should people know about this program if they’re interested?

The partnership between our police department, and CCA is to try to get new candidates involved with the career of law enforcement. With this partnership with CCA, individuals who have graduated high school or have graduated within the last five years, or possibly have left high school and went and served our country within one of the military branches, who know that they do want to pursue a career in law-enforcement, they can go to CCA and major and whatever degree field they like.They could join the Cadet Program. They will also be required to spend eight hours a month with the police department receiving training. Once these individuals have  Completed their schooling at CCA and met all the requirements as far as their hours within the police department, they will be streamed to the police academy. With our department from day one when you start in the academy, you’re receiving full pay and benefits. Once that individual has been with our department for three years, the tuition accrued at CCA will be paid for. So essentially with this partnership individuals’ tuition could be paid for if they meet all the requirements and finish school. 

Talk a little bit about how this program is going to be helpful for students in that regard, because after they finish the program as you said, the school is covered.

To be able to receive the schooling and have the potential to have it paid for, it sets someone in a position where, receiving this higher education, and it doesn’t cost anything which doesn’t put them in debt where they have to pay it back starting pay for a recruit officer is approximately $67,000 a year and each year that amount increases so that only doesn’t give them the opportunity to receive this higher education and have it paid for, and get them into the workforce and start earning a pretty good salary where they can provide for themselves, their family and be able to take care of any other financial responsibilities they may have.  

Tell me about your own experiences changing your career to law-enforcement, and how that impacted your life. 

I was a teacher. I knew that I wanted to have a career where I gave back to the community. I did that for a year and when I was doing that it just wasn’t a good fit for me at that time. I built a relationship with the school resource officer in the school at that time and he kinda asked “Do you know what is it that you want to do?” I told him that I want to give back to the community in whatever I did next, and he asked me if I wanted to become an officer. The more research I did, I realized that the training that officer’s receive will get them prepared for that. Once I learned all that, I thought, you know what, it probably is a good field for me to go into and it’s a good opportunity for me to help improve the community, which is what I always wanted to do. 

What impact will this have on the APD and its ability to serve the community?

It’s going to have a huge impact with APD and the community. Being an Aurora native, I have more pride serving my community. I want to make sure that I’m serving my community right because I look at Aurora as being me. So this opportunity here will be able to bring more applicants that are natives that are gonna have that extra level of pride. One of things that we want to do is make sure that our department is reflective of how our community looks. With improving that, I think that’s going to help with building stronger relationships and earning more trust with the community and the department. Because in order for us to be able to serve our community, it is very essential for our community to trust us and believe that everyone’s out doing the job for the right reasons. I think when they’re seeing people that they may have grown up with, or people that they know or they know that are from here, or grew up in the area, that they grew up with kind of brings that down a little bit when they’re handling things. It makes that person more relatable. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

This interview has been edited down for time.

Photos by Dept. of Strategic Communications