COLUMBUS (WCMH) – Columbus police are looking to reach out to the community with a special mentorship program, something the department has been doing for decades.

Recruitment has been on the back burner because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but now they’re looking to replenish their ranks for the Columbus Police Public Safety Corps.

The goal of the corps is to offer mentorship and build better relationships with the community, specifically for young people between the ages of 14 and 20.

The lead mentor of the program said he’d like to see more young people get involved.

“When I was 15, I knew I wanted to be a police officer but I didn’t really know what went into it,” said Columbus Police Public Safety Corps member Colby Scott.

Scott has been with the program for the last four years, joining to gain insight into what it takes to earn a badge.

Corps members are shown the ins and outs of training, testing, and participating in simulations like traffic stops. The program is modeled after what cadets learn in the police academy.

“Before I joined it, I didn’t really get up well,” Scott said. “I didn’t have a lot of discipline in my life, so from this program, I learned a lot about discipline. Personal discipline and just the effect on how you talk to people.”

Sgt. Lindsey Alli is the lead mentor for the program. She’d like to see hundreds of young people get involved, especially since many of the city’s crimes are being committed by its young.

“It keeps kids engaged in something other than being in their neighborhoods after school and potentially getting into trouble, so it allows them to get to know officers on a personal level,” she said.

Alli said the program serves as a pipeline to cadet training as well, but it doesn’t have to be. The focus of the program is to build bonds and a support system for children who might need it.

“We have time for study table before the meeting starts,” Alli said. “Twice a week, we help them stay fit and work out, so it’s just a great program to keep them focused and engaged.”

An open house is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 8, with tours and demonstrations.

“One of the biggest things about this program is just the community that you build and the relationships that you build,” Scott said.

Scott said the safety corps has inspired him to get involved with an internship program as well, with his goal being to become a Columbus police officer.

For more information on Monday’s open house, click here.