Josh Schlesinger knew from a very young age that he wanted to work in law enforcement.
Growing up in Tustin, he became an explorer with the Tustin Police Department. He then joined the cadet program. Then, he entered the police academy.
On June 22 he graduated from the Golden West College Police Academy and was sworn in as a police officer with the Tustin PD.
“I look up to police officers,” said Schlesinger. “I respect the values of law enforcement and I wanted to be a part of a team.”
Schlesinger isn’t alone in his path from cadet to police officer. In fact, Officers Tim Crouch and Andrew Ok took similar routes. All three officers have found great benefit in joining the agency at a young age and working their way up.
“While I was there I feel like it really gave me a different perspective,” said Ok about working as a cadet in the records unit and professional standards division. “I always wanted to be a police officer and it just confirmed my dream.”
Crouch, who was a cadet from July 2011 to October 2012, became an officer in March 2013. For the past two years he has been assigned to the traffic unit as a motor officer. The time he spent as a TPD cadet, he worked in the traffic unit, assisting in parking enforcement and events.
“I’m just really grateful to be involved with the [cadet]program,” said Crouch, adding that he’s received a lot of support from the agency over the years. “Everyone is rooting for you to do well because they’ve seen you grow up here.”
Schlesinger said during his time as a cadet, he worked in the traffic, the property and evidence, the professional standards and records units.
“Each one of those units helped me understand a different aspect of law enforcement,” he said. “In addition to all that, it gave me a huge foot in the door.”
Even though he just became an officer in June, he’s already established a long list of role models and mentors he looks up to and goes to for advice.
“I strongly recommend the cadet program,” said Schlesinger. “It’s a great opportunity to figure out if this is what you really want.”
Ok added that just because you are a cadet doesn’t guarantee you’ll become a police officer, you still need to pass the testing process. But it’s still a great job to have while you’re in college (cadets must be enrolled in college full time and maintain grades of C or better). He said as a cadet – and as an officer – he’s enjoyed the camaraderie and family atmosphere of the TPD.
“It was a great fit for me,” he said. “And to this day, a very great police agency.”
Crouch recalled when he knew police work was the right fit for him. It was the first time he experienced driving Code 3 (lights and siren) to an emergency call, which happened when he was on a ride along as a cadet.
“The officer was so calm, but I was out of my mind,” he said. “Thrilling and exciting… It’s another world to step into.”
All three agree, the department’s cadet program was an excellent opportunity for them to gain experience and develop a base knowledge for their future careers as police officers.