DOVER — Last week Logan Spicer and Lee Killen stopped in Forney’s Jewelry Store on West Loockerman Street, where they were immediately greeted by a chocolate Labrador retriever as if they were best friends.
Amy Macheska, assistant manager of the store, said the dogs love having them around just as much of as downtown Dover’s business owners.
Mr. Spicer, 19, and Mr. Killen, 20, are two of the new six part-time Dover police cadets who help maintain a more visible law enforcement presence downtown.
The program has been in effect only about two months, but already has generated a lot of positive results.
“All the business owners seem to like that we’re down there,” Mr. Killen said. “They’re pretty receptive of it.”
The cadets, age 18 and older, are uniformed and carry standard police equipment, including pepper spray, handcuffs and stun guns.
The part-time cadets are paid an hourly rate of $12. They patrol in pairs.
Each cadet patrols downtown, including the city library, for about 19 hours per week, including weekends.
They don’t carry handguns, but are trained to give citations. They aren’t authorized to make arrests.
“We deal with a lot of quality-of-life crimes,” Mr. Spicer said. “That includes open containers, people loitering, panhandlers and loud noise complaints.
“We make our presence known in the downtown area by walking into all of the businesses and having conversations with them and do our patrols in the library.”
Even though they can’t make arrests, they still can be first on the scene when other crimes occur.
“We recently had a shoplifting incident and they were the first people here,” said Gary Knox, owner of Forney’s Too on West Loockerman Street.
“The cadets are a great presence. I really like them being out there,” Mr. Knox said.
On three separate occasions Mr. Spicer and Mr. Killen said they’ve caught people using or in the possession of heroin.
“We call in full-time officers to help us with those types of situations,” Mr. Spicer said. “Our role is to be the best witness that we can be.
“We try to get the description of the person and make sure that person is in our sight until an officer comes over. We don’t have the power to detain people.”
Mr. Spicer, Mr. Killen and other cadets are hoping to apply to join the force full-time when they turn 21.
Cpl. Mark Hoffman, spokesman for the Dover Police Department, said the program gives the cadets the experience they need when it’s time for them to become full-time officers.
“We look at it as our farm team, basically,” Cpl. Hoffman said. “It gives us an idea of how they perform, gets them the experience they need, and it gives us an idea of whether they can handle the full-time responsibilities of a police officer or not.”
As part of the selection process, each candidate must pass a standard police physical test, a psychological test and written examination.
Successful candidates then will undergo an oral interview, followed by a background investigation.
Mr. Killen said training was tough but it was worth it.
“We had two in-house 40-hour weeks,” Mr. Killen said. “It’s pretty serious if you mess up; it’s a serious consequence so the training had to fit the job.”
Mr. Spicer said on occasion people try to test their authority, since they aren’t fully fledged officers.
But he said as long as you treat people with respect they will do the same.
“That’s a big thing when you can handle the community and talk to them,” Mr. Spicer said. “They’re going to respect you a lot more if you’re friendly to them. If you talk to them on occasion they’re going to be friendlier to talk to you on a separate occasion.”
Domonique Williams, owner of Brunch N’ Lunch at 25 Loockerman St., said the cadets’ rapport with the community has been great thus far.
“They have the highest amount of respect and great personalities,” Mr. Williams said. “They always stop into the stores and talk to people.
“They talk to people on the street and it’s not necessarily trying to find anything out. They’re just having a conversation with people and that’s especially important downtown.”
Both cadets said the experience continues to make them excited about their lifelong dreams of becoming police officers.
“I grew up in a police family and that’s all I can imagine doing,” Mr. Spicer said. “I spent my whole childhood dreaming about the job.
“I’m finally working toward it and now that’s it’s coming upon me it’s pretty exciting.”
Mr. Killen agreed.
“It’s always been a childhood dream,” Mr. Killen said. “I just liked playing cops and robbers and I always looked up to police officers.
“They really do a lot within our community to make it a better place,” he added. “I really enjoy helping people, too.
“This is the area I grew up in, and I want to do my part to make it a better place for the future.”