Police Cadets Serve in the Front Lines
By Rashad Mulla
Mason police officers have a dedicated young group of students serving as their eyes and ears. This semester, 28 students serve as police cadets, running patrols, directing traffic, staffing events, providing escorts, preparing reports and monitoring key locations on campus. Cadets are usually on duty from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., serving four-hour shifts.
Mason’s Police Cadet Program, established in 2003, picked up steam in 2008 when Nyka Corbin, formerly a night patrol officer, took the reins. Since then, Corbin, now the program’s officer-in-charge, increased the number of cadets from eight to 28, revamped the training and implemented a more solid structure.
“The program existed and was running, but it was running in a limited capacity,” Corbin says. “The more jobs we have available, the better for the college students. The cadets are the eyes and ears of the department, and the police officers are the hands and feet.”
The program is backed by a staunch advocate. Michael Lynch, Mason chief of police, began his career as a police cadet in 1973 and has worked in law enforcement ever since.
“We believe that employing students to work for the university police department is a win-win. Students gain experience while filling a need in the security environment of the campus,” Lynch says.
“Officer Corbin has done a great job building the program to the success it is today.”
The cadets carry around radios during patrol shifts and are certified in various safety techniques. They undergo training in CPR, lab safety and fire extinguisher deployment, and they spend a week or two before the semester begins learning proper radio procedure and etiquette. While the cadets do not have arrest powers – they are trained not to engage suspects – they regularly report suspicious behavior and activity.
“Our program is very visible within the school,” Corbin says. “Cadets go to all of the orientations, and they are also out and about.”
Mason police cadets also staff big events at the Patriot Center, the Johnson Center Dewberry Hall and the Center for the Arts. When President Barack Obama spoke about health care on March 19 at the Patriot Center, nine cadets worked alongside Mason police officers and the Secret Service detail assigned to cover the event.
“Not many students can say they’ve done something like that,” Corbin says.
Not that the cadets aren’t accomplished in their own right.
Ted Gulyas, a sophomore mathematics major, works 30 hours per week as a field-training cadet (one step below the senior cadets) in addition to about 25 hours a week at the Buckhall Volunteer Fire Department in Manassas, Va., as a certified emergency medical technician. He is also a member of the Virginia Army National Guard.
The third-year cadet even works overtime to put more effort into his 30-hour weeks as a cadet.
“I’ve been working since I was 15, and this is by far the most rewarding job I have ever had,” Gulyas says. “I’ve always had an interest in public safety.”
Lauren Iu, a junior economics major with an administration of justice minor, is one of two senior cadets who serve in supervisory roles and report directly to Corbin. Iu works both seven- and four-hour shifts, and has sometimes found herself at school until 6 a.m. the next day. She has been a member of the cadets program since fall 2007.
“The program has grown so much, and many more people know about us now,” she says. “I never thought I would actually go into policing, but this job really gave me the desire to make changes.”
On Feb. 19, Iu was attending a Phi Alpha Delta (pre-law fraternity) event, when one of the PAD board members choked on some of her food. Iu quickly performed the Heimlich maneuver, saving the board member’s life.
She will be awarded Mason’s Presidential Citation on May 2.
Iu eventually wants to go to law school, while Gulyas wants to go to firefighter school.
Corbin welcomes the challenges of continuing to build the cadets program.
“I love that I’ve been able to change it and make it grow,” she says. “I love the constant challenges. It seems like every semester, I’m revamping the training.
“It just keeps getting better and better.”