- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

FRANKENMUTH, Mich. (AP) - Denver Bonkowski wants to become a police officer, and in high school, he’s learning what the job takes.

The 17-year-old senior at Frankenmuth High School is a cadet at the Frankenmuth Police Department, a program where high school students work with police officers.

“They get a taste of real world employment,” Police Chief Don Mower told The Saginaw News ( https://bit.ly/1w4v9AQ ).

The program, which started six years ago, is designed to show students what being a police officer is like, and students earn high school credit for their work.

Up to four students work in the department for an hour a day, four days a week and on some weekends. The students do administrative work in the office such as preparing cases for the prosecutor’s office and going on ride-alongs with offers.

All work is done under close supervision, Mower said.

“We hear nothing from positive things from their parents at the end,” he said. “All aspects of their life seem to greatly increase in being mission-oriented.”

Bonkowski said he’s always been interested at a future in law enforcement. He’s examining a career in local law enforcement, state police or at a federal level, such as becoming a U.S. marshal.

“I like to keep people safe and protected,” he said. “It’s an opportunity not many people get.”

Working at a police station has helped Bonkowski determine he likes the field even more than he thought.

“I feel like I could do it every day all day and not get bored of it,” Bonkowski said. “It’s a really a nice opportunity.”

At the Frankenmuth Police Department, he files paperwork and accident reports and answers the phone. He said he’s looking forward working at an event such as Snowfest in January.

The other student in the program, 18-year-old Colin Worden, said he’s been interested in police work since he was young and is looking at being a conservation officer.

“I figured the cadet program was a good way to start,” he said. “Luckily, I got the job.”

Worden said the traffic stops on ride-alongs surprised him the most. Officers have to go through many steps before approaching the car, he said.

Students apply for the program during their junior year, and Frankenmuth High School’s co-op program coordinator decides which students could be a good fit, Mower said.

The students go through an application process with the department, including submitting a resume, interviewing, getting a background check and taking a drug test. Mower interviews the students one final time before choosing students for the program.

The students first read through and sign rules and expectations, such as a confidentiality clause.

“Everyone knows what the expectations are going in,” Mower said. “We also talk about staying out of trouble through the summer. We’ve never had any issues.”

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Information from: The Saginaw News, https://www.mlive.com/saginaw

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