CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - As police recruiting classes dry up, Cambridge is taking an old approach to attract young officers: the city is reviving its long dormant cadet program.
Cambridge is fighting a battle on three fronts: a residency requirement that limits recruiting, high costs to live here and a lack of interest from young people.
And 18 years ago, 23-year-old Robert Lowe wanted a job, that was it.
"I was looking for opportunities to provide for my family at the time," said Lowe, who at 40, is now the youngest deputy on the Cambridge police force.
It is a department with a growing number of older officers.: 13 will hit retirement age within five years, according to a spokesman. Many others will have 30 years under their belts and could retire any time.
"It's really affecting police departments all over the country so what we're trying to do in Cambridge is just expand our reach into the community.”
Although a larger department, Boston, faces similar challenges, with anticipated 30 retirements per year coming in the next five years, according to data provided to Boston 25 News.
Cambridge's answer is reviving the long-dormant cadet program.
"We're really trying to capture individuals in the community between the ages of 8 and 23 with the hopes of, at some point, they'll take the exam and become a police officer here in Cambridge," said Lowe.
He says it's rewarding but far from a job without challenges.
"I think for me the biggest challenge is not knowing what's going to happen in that particular day," he said.
The city's workforce development youth cadet program is trying to pump up interest in policing.
"We sent out an email blasts, we've mentioned it on social media," said George Hinds, director of youth employment.
"Trying to make sure that young people who have experienced our programming and found that to be good and valuable also know about these opportunities," Hinds said.
Hinds said police and fire academy interest has been on the rise among teens in the program, most he says are minority women.
As for the cadet program, Cambridge is working to fill its first class in more than 30 years, they are still accepting applications and trying to fill 15 slots.
The class begins next fall.
© 2019 Cox Media Group.