For as long as he can remember, Martin High School junior Connor Vollmering has wanted to be a police officer.
“That’s something I’m looking forward to being able to do,” said Vollmering. “Help people when they’re in those dire need situation, and be able to help them and protect their lives and the lives of the community.”
Now, thanks to a first of its kind partnership between the Arlington Independent School District, The University of Texas at Arlington, and the Arlington Police Department, he and classmate Jessica Carlton won’t have to wait until college to get their feet wet.
“Having this just gives me a good mindset, whether or not this is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” said Carlton, who is also a junior at Martin High School.
Wednesday, the three organizations announced a new program that will put qualified Arlington High School students on the fast track to getting their criminal justice degrees and ultimately a job.
“There is a strong interest from our student population to pursue law enforcement careers,” said Dr. Marcelo Cavazos, Arlington ISD Superintendent. “So this allows us that opportunity to make those dreams more tangible for students.”
Once students apply and are accepted into the program, they will get to take dual credit classes at UTA. The university said those will likely be introductory courses on topics like criminology, policing and law enforcement ethics.
“Being on that track early is certainly going to help set the stage for those students to be able to follow through with that program and be qualified to be a police officer,” said Dr. Jaya Davis, a Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UT Arlington.
If those students successfully complete the program, then get their degree from UTA after high school, the Arlington Police Department will guarantee them a job interview. Chief Will Johnson said that’s significant because many applicants don’t get interviews due to the volume of applications the department receives.
“And we’re going to make every effort to get them hired,” said Johnson. “We want to draw from the talent and the youth of our own community, celebrate its diversity, and give them an opportunity to serve in neighborhoods where they grew up.
The program will launch next fall. Arlington ISD said it hopes to put up to 50 students in the program each year.