Gulfport Police relaunch “community service officer” program

Published: Jul. 21, 2022 at 7:54 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Recent high school graduates are being offered a chance to get their foot in the door and establish a lifelong career in protecting and serving.

The Gulfport Police Department just relaunched its community service officer program.

From responding to burglaries and assisting with casework, the program is designed to create a pipeline of future police officers.

You may have seen their vehicles on the streets of Gulfport. Behind the wheel are young adults who work alongside the city’s police officers. Some of them are teenagers who have a passion for law enforcement, but no experience.

That’s where the Community Service Officer program comes in, offering on the job training to recruits who are under the age of 21.

“I’ve learned how to deescalate situations a lot and how to interact more in my community and I’ve learned the basics to being a police officer like writing reports,” community service officer Faith Smith said.

The program acts as a stepping stone for officers who are not sworn in yet, but intend to be. They are starting young, working their way up by assisting patrol officers, taking reports, responding to minor accidents, parking enforcement, and traffic control.

“That’s where I started here at the police department,” Gulfport police chief Adam Cooper said. “I wasn’t quite done with college and I knew I wanted to be a police officer. They took a chance on me and hired me as a CST, now a CSO and here I am today.”

“It means a lot seeing someone starting where I am now and knowing that I could possibly do that one day,” community service officer Ty Peterson said.

Law enforcement agencies across the country are experiencing an unprecedented challenge in a climate where police recruitment is becoming more difficult. Gulfport is no exception with more than 20 vacancies in their police department.

“We’re actually having an easier time hiring CSOs than we are police officers right now,” Chief Cooper said. “We were missing out on a whole generation that wanted to become police officers.”

With five community service officers, the department is paving the way for the recruit’s careers in law enforcement; and in turn, the department hopes to be able to swear them in as their own once they turn 21.

More information on how to get involved in the program can be found at

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