COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Gov. Mike DeWine announced a new program Wednesday to recruit law enforcement officers in Ohio.  

DeWine said the program, called the College to Law Enforcement Pathway Program, will connect law enforcement agencies with criminal justice programs at state colleges and universities. 

“Right now, we’re facing a challenging time in law enforcement and public safety, and there is no better time to want to be a leader and have it matter,” said Dublin Chief of Police Justin Paez.

Morale is low in law enforcement, according to the governor; one big concern is the lack of interested applicants in law enforcement.

The pilot program will involve Cedarville University and Central State University. Eleven law enforcement agencies have expressed interest, including the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Franklin County Sheriff’s office, and police departments in Dublin and Lancaster.

Despite a growing need, Dr. Patrick Oliver said this program will only take on those who get through an extensive interview process and hold a 3.0 grade point average.

“I think it will have a fairly high elimination rate, but we are raising standards not lowering standards. We want to get the very best,” said Oliver, director of the criminal justice program at Cedarville University.

DeWine said more still needs to be done to reform policing in Ohio, things like additional training and the creation of an oversight committee.

“It’s exciting, it’s not going to solve every problem but it’s one step forward that I think is going to make a big difference,” he said.