In a sea of current fashion, it’s easy to spot Melissa Hidalgo wearing her issued uniform — a blue shirt and navy pants — as she patrols the Pierce College campus.
Hidalgo is one of 13 cadets, an hourly, part-time position that many people mistake for a police officer.
They are not sworn to oath as officers. Their duties are extensive, including general campus safety, escorting students, crime prevention and parking enforcement.
Melissa Hidalgo, a 20-year-old nursing student, is one of the 13 cadets at Pierce College.
Her time as a cadet has made her consider law enforcement as another opportunity, to give back and protect the community.
“It’s definitely a great experience,” Hidalgo said. “You really learn a lot about the campus and what is going on.”
The cadets must go through a thorough background check and interview to be considered for their position. Candidates must also submit references and write a small autobiography to allow the sheriffs to get to know them better.
A friend of Hidalgo’s recommended that she try out the program, but the involvement and interest that she has developed has been unexpected.
The importance and quick pace of the position is tempting for her, making the choice between nursing and law enforcement more difficult than she had first expected.
“It’s nice to be more involved,” Hidalgo said. “I think both jobs are important.”
The cadets learn through experience, getting to know the campus on a deeper level, committing police codes to memory, and gaining general experience through the officers.
“Mostly our job is to be their eyes and ears on campus while [the sheriff’s] not there,” Hidalgo said.
There is little in the way of a regimented course like full-officers must go through, allowing students to learn about the field without overextending. Jonathan Holguin, a cadet on the road to becoming an officer, says many of the negative assumptions about the position are unfounded.
“Every day you are helping someone out,” Holguin said. “We just want to keep the school safe.”
Hidalgo agrees with Holguin saying that her time so far as a cadet has been positive, granting her a deeper knowledge of the campus and the ability to help keep the school safe.
The officers even tout the importance of the cadets as part of the security force on campus.
“We need good people,” said Officer John Weber, one of the 13 security officers in the department. “Each day is a new experience.”
According to Angie Moore, senior office assistant at the Sheriff’s station, applications that are submitted are reviewed during the winter and in the summer.
Those interested in joining the cadet program can download the application on the Pierce College Sheriffs Department website or call the station at (818) 719-6450.