COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Division of Police is working to build its ranks.

The department said recruiting looks a lot different now, and one of the ways involves getting people engaged from a young age. CPD helps kids as young as 14 learn just what it takes to be a patrol officer.

Through classroom learning and real-life simulations, the Public Safety Corps Program works to get 14- to 20-year-olds involved and interested in law enforcement.

“This is modern recruiting,” Public Safety Corps Program lead mentor and Columbus police officer Jonathan Johnson said. “That’s the big thing with what we’re starting to see. Criminal justice is one of the fastest growing career paths in the state of Ohio, but also the nation, and this is a very high demand job right now and there are very few of us,”

This program is hoping to fill the gaps.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to be a police officer for a very long time,” PSC Program member Robert Davidson said.

Davidson has been in the program for the last three years. He joined when he was 14.

“I just had a really big passion to always help people and always be there for people when they are in need,” Davidson said. “I just felt like being a police officer, there’s really a lot of meaning behind that job. And you can do a lot of things every day to help people.”

Greta Belair joined two years ago. She said the work helps her in everyday life: she recently rescued a child from drowning where she works as a lifeguard.

“It really helped me to push past any hesitation that I feel in those moments, and just, you know, jumping in, not thinking about anything else but getting that kid out of there,” Belair said.

From helping people in crisis to stopping a burglary in progress, the training gives young people tools to handle pressure regardless of their future careers.

“Our mentors really, really pushed the idea of leadership and excellence to us,” Belair said. “Something that just makes us excel no matter where we are.”

If you are interested in learning more about the Columbus Public Safety Corps program, there is an open house on Oct. 2 at the James G. Jackson Police Academy from 6 to 8 p.m.

The PSC program is open to people who have completed eighth grade and are between 14 and 20 years old.