Many young people join the Los Angeles Police Department’s cadet program to prepare themselves for careers in law enforcement, learning tactics and techniques that are beneficial when they enter the police academy.

Many people may not be aware, however, that the cadet program now ends at age 17, and prospective new law enforcement officers cannot become sworn police officers until they turn 21. The three-year gap leads to a drop-off rate among cadets who cannot wait three years to pursue their dreams.

The development company Caruso, owner and operator of The Grove and many other retail and residential properties throughout Southern California, has created a solution known as Bound for Blue. The program provides employment opportunities as security officers and concierge ambassadors on Caruso properties, bridging the gap for cadets until they can become police officers.

“We are thrilled to announce this partnership with LAPD,” said Rick Caruso, founder and CEO of Caruso. “During my time as commissioner of the department, I saw the value of high quality, community-focused work and what a positive impact it had on those who were able to experience it. My hope is that Bound for Blue will broaden the pool of candidates who want to become officers and allow them to be well-rounded and more prepared for the force.”

The program was also praised by LAPD Chief Michel Moore.

“The department welcomes the leadership of Caruso in providing meaningful job opportunities for promising young people as they continue to prepare for becoming members of LAPD,” Moore said. “This investment promises to pay huge dividends long into the future, ensuring LAPD has well qualified applicants prepared to take on the responsibilities of becoming a member of this department.”

Yolanda Rae, who has served as the youth services officer at the LAPD’s Wilshire Division for nine years, said the Bound for Blue program will help the approximately 3,000 cadets department wide. Previously, the cadet program was for youth ages 13 to 21 and served a feeder into the department. After incidents in 2017 in which older cadets at the 77th Street Division were found to have been joyriding in police vehicles and taking equipment home, and an officer overseeing the program at the police station was involved in criminal misconduct, the program was scaled back, Rae said. Having an extra level for the youth like Bound for Blue will keep cadets on track, she added.

“It will be great for the kids who want to go in that direction,” Rae said. “With these programs, the kids always benefit. We need it.”

Banyon Hutter, senior vice president of security for Caruso, said officers overseeing the cadet programs at different police stations will inform cadets about the opportunities available through Bound for Blue. Cadets can apply for the positions as soon as they turn 18, he said.

“Giving back to our communities is a part of Caruso’s DNA. We have a long history of supporting the LAPD dating as far back as 2001 when our founder and CEO Rick Caruso held the position of president of the Los Angeles Police Commission,” Hutter added. “They have been a vital partner to us in ensuring the safety and security of our guests, our properties and the surrounding communities. Not only is public service a key pillar in our organization, but in this case, we have the resources to provide on the ground training and experience for those who aspire to serve, so it was a natural fit.”

The hope is that Bound for Blue will help the LAPD boost its ranks with qualified candidates.

“Our goal is to continue to support the LAPD as much as we can. The organization does so much good for the community, and we take great pride in reciprocating their efforts – particularly as there is a shortage in incoming officers,” Hutter said. “Recruitment can be a challenge but we know that many of our security personnel are interested in joining the force. Our hope is to grow and extend this opportunity to as many people as possible.”