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Columbus Police To Hold First Public Safety Corps Open House In Three Years

Columbus Police vehicles outside the division headquarters.
David Holm

On Monday, the Columbus Police will be holding its Public Safety Corps open house for teens and young adults for the first time since fall 2018.

The Public Safety Corps program is for young people ages 14 to 21-years-old and aims to give them the skills and experience to pursue a career in law enforcement.

Columbus Police Officer Samuel James is a lead mentor in the program and said while he doesn't have specific figures, since the pandemic began, they've seen a drop in membership numbers in the program. However, he adds it's hard to pinpoint a specific reason why that's the case.

"People were a little worried in terms of meeting in person with bigger groups, but we also haven't been able to go out there and promote the program," James said. "So I don't know if it's the pandemic that caused that drop or the fact that we haven't been able to recruit at any special events, high schools, etc."

In July, Columbus Police officials said that they don't expect a shortage of officers, despite a drop in applications.

However, as of last month, the Columbus Police are facing a shortage of over 100 officers. But James said that's not entirely the purpose of the open house, and that they would have held it anyways.

"It is not just about replenishing our ranks that we might be losing today or this year," James said. "It's about keeping and growing that interest in the young individuals who do see our profession as a viable option."

He added he hopes the return of the in-person open houses will show kids what the Columbus police are about, which will get them to spread the word to their friends and family.

"The kids, they're our biggest recruiters actually," he said. "We have this event to showcase so people can see firsthand what somebody else might be talking about."

James said he doesn't know why the Public Safety Corps did not hold an open house in 2019.

Michael Lee joined WOSU in 2021, but was previously an intern at the station in 2018. He is a graduate from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism where he obtained his master's degree, and an alumnus of Ohio State University. Michael has previously worked as an intern at the Columbus Dispatch and most recently, the Chicago Sun-Times.