Molokaʻi Students Explore Careers in Law Enforcement


Operating under the Maui Police Department (MPD), last summer the Molokaʻi District successfully launched their Youth Cadet Leadership Program (YCLP). The inaugural class of cadets, consisting of 12 ambitious young individuals, completed a three-week intensive training program.

The program was so well received that it was offered again this summer and last month, on June 23, a second cohort of future leaders completed their training.

This innovative, path-paving initiative was made possible through the efforts of MPD Officer Safford Lani Caparida, who spearheaded the program.

“The program provides firsthand experiences and insight into the operations of the law enforcement field,” Caparida said. “Cadets will also gain an understanding and respect for the law enforcement profession and techniques. Through the training, cadets will have an opportunity to consider law enforcement as a potential career choice.”

The program is available to all students attending Molokaʻi High School (ages 15-18). “Applicants must maintain a “C” (2.0 GPA) in school, maintain good moral character, and [demonstrate] a desire to learn more about the law enforcement profession. Applicants may not have any felony arrests and/or convictions,” Caparida added.

Although all applicants are welcome, students indicating an interest in law enforcement and/or first responder-type careers will be given preference. If accepted into the program, students must maintain the same degree of professionalism expected of police officers and emergency management personnel – including a grooming policy.

Students participating in the YCLP receive training in multiple law enforcement discipline areas including latent fingerprint science, first aid/CPR certification, lifeguarding/water rescue techniques, criminal law, police arrest defense tactics, traffic section, special response, report writing, firearms safety, vice narcotics, police vehicles operation, as well as proper conduct for drills and formal ceremonies. And this year, a Hawaiian studies component was integrated into the curriculum.

Students are also given the opportunity to meet a variety of professional first responders. Participants in this aspect of the program were from the Maui County Fire Department, the American Medical Response (AMR), and the Department of Land and Natural Resource’s Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. And they receive an introduction to on-island health care presented by personnel from the island’s health clinics and Molokaʻi General Hospital.

“The program also offers insight into other first responder professions, (fire and ambulance). On-island personnel from these agencies provide classroom and on-sight presentations,” said Caparida.

YCLP also requires cadets to participate in three community service projects on the island. With training, communication, and collaboration, cadet leaders determine the type of projects that must be completed each week.

Caparida hopes to use the program to help build a future for students from Molokaʻi and provide them with insight into the real-life experiences that these job paths can offer.

“Youth leadership is paramount to the program. Each cadet is challenged and trained to build and create stronger bonds with everyone they will be working with,” said Caparida. “The cadets learn to develop active listening skills, smarter decision-making, and self-awareness – giving each cadet the tools they need to collaborate and problem-solve.”

As with most community-based programs, funding is always an issue. “We are seeking assistance and/or partnerships for our program in the form of goods and services or monetary contributions. All contributions are greatly appreciated,” said Caparida.

For more information about the YCLP, please reach out to the Molokaʻi Police Station at (808-553-5355).