When Bridgewater College announced last school year that it would introduce a safety cadet program on campus, Emma Johnson and her roommate were the first to sign up.
Johnson doesn’t have any family in law enforcement, but as a sociology major, she knows law enforcement is a career path that would be open to her and one she is interested in.
The safety cadet program, under the advisement of campus police officer Kelly Zander, kicked off this year with eight cadets. There is a mix of men and women, and while most of the cadets are seniors like Johnson, there is one junior and one sophomore.
Although she doesn’t have an official title, Johnson is the student leader of the organization.
“I make the schedule and keep everyone connected,” she said.
Cadets work twice a week patrolling campus by foot. Shifts are from 6 p.m. to midnight, which Johnson said is long but she’s able to keep up with her school work and do homework.
Like the title suggests, safety cadets are there to make students feel safe. A lot of what they spend their time doing is walking students from their car to their dorm or from a party to their dorm. Johnson is quick to point out that there aren’t a lot of parties going on these days during the ongoing pandemic.
“We’re fortunate that Bridgewater College is a genuinely safe place, but people have anxiety about walking alone,” Johnson said.
Cadets have a uniform of polo shirts, khakis and a hat, and they carry a radio and a flashlight.
The BC Campus Police and Safety Office has long been dedicated to community policing, which is the philosophy of promoting partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the conditions that give rise to public safety issues, according to a press release about the program.
The cadets serve in different security functions throughout campus, and are extra eyes and ears of the police and safety office. The cadets have no police powers but will contact sworn police officers or campus safety officers if they see issues occurring. The cadets’ duties include patrolling campus, serving as safety escorts and monitoring at special events.
Anyone interested in learning more about the program can attend an open house on Sept. 24 from 3 to 6 p.m. at 122 College View Drive.
Zander did not return calls or emails asking for information about the program.