INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — Like so many police departments in the metro area, the city of Independence is looking to hire more officers.
There's a new partnership that will help them train more recruits so they can get them on the streets sooner.
Shawn Kavadas, 22, has a track record of protecting and serving — first as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps, and soon as a police officer.
"That’s what it’s about, being able to help those people that need that help and being able to pull them out those tight spots that they’re in," Kavadas said.
He saw it first-hand four years ago when an EF-3 tornado tore through his hometown of Oak Grove.
"The relationship they had and the way that they helped the public and the citizens in Oak Grove at that time, was really what got me super, super, interested into it," Kavadas said.
While in the Marines, Kavadas heard of Metropolitan Community College Blue River Public Safety Institute’s Police Academy.
In a week, he'll be graduating with a job waiting for him at the Independence Police Department, who recently announced a new partnership with MCC.
"So, it automatically gets them in the field quicker based upon when an academy starts, with our starting in January," Craig McMein, MCC-Blue River Public Safety Institute Director said.
McMein said it speeds up the process of when new officers can start working in the field.
"That gets them graduated by May, and then in the field [and] into their three to four month process of becoming out of the FTO (field training officer) process and being on their own," he said.
According to Independence Police, there are currently 183 sworn officers and 230 would have the department fully staffed.
The department has the money to fill the vacancies, now they just need to the hire officers.
So, instead of just relying on the Regional Police Academy to train recruits, sending them to MCC gives IPD more flexibility.
At MCC's police academy, future officers receive basic training required by the state of Missouri along with some additional training.
"We have added a mental awareness course," McMein said. "It's very similar to the C.I.T. (crisis intervention training) which is what officers get traditionally in their first to two years of experience."
All of it, Kavadas says is a worthy experience.
"You understand that people are going through a tough time and stuff like that," Kavadas said. "That's what it's all about. It's not just, you know, going in arresting everyone you see. I think that's kind of the problem right now between some of the public and some of law enforcement — is that's what some people think that law enforcement is."
Independence police will have two more recruits starting at the MCC police academy in January.