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The Statehouse News Bureau provides educational, comprehensive coverage of legislation, elections, issues and other activities surrounding the Statehouse to Ohio's public radio and television stations.

Ohio Universities Partnering With Law Enforcement To Improve Police Recruitment Efforts

Gov. Mike DeWine announces new state program to increase police recruitment at the Ohio Department of Public Safety.. [Andy Chow]
Gov. Mike DeWine announces new state program to increase police recruitment at the Ohio Department of Public Safety..

With major city police departments struggling with large numbers of retirements and departures, Ohio is launching a program to help connect college students with local police agencies.

The long-term, statewide program will help stave off a potential shortage in recruits, Gov. Mike DeWine said Wednesday at the program’s launch.

“We’ll be linking criminal justice majors with seasoned law enforcement mentors during a students' junior and senior year in college,” he said. “You could even refer to it as a co-op where they'll actually go out and be with these law enforcement mentors. It will be guaranteed, as part of the program, a job as soon as they graduate.”

Central State University and Cedarville University will serve as the pilot schools for the program, teaming up with police departments and sheriff's offices for the College To Law Enforcement Pathway program. Fairview Park Police are expected to participate in the pilot phase, as well.

Patrick Oliver, director of Cedarville University’s criminal justice program, said the program will hopefully help increase the number of women and people of color who join police forces

“Because we’re going to recruit them, select them, train them, develop them, and then have a pool of highly qualified candidates that include both minorities and women,” Oliver said. And Cedarville and Central State’s criminal justice programs both have a majority of women and minorities currently enrolled, he said.

The new program will be an elite academic honors program, Oliver said, noting that he believes participating students will want to be challenged beyond the regular classroom.

Sarah Shendy, a 12-year veteran of the Copley Police force who now heads law enforcement recruitment for the state, said students should still be motivated to be an officer.

“A lot of people think about leaving behind a legacy. As a police officer, you get to see your legacy within your community and within the kids you interact with,” Shendy said. “So, I do understand that this is a very rough time for law enforcement, but that's when leaders rise.”