By Conor McCue

DENVER (CBS4) – Denver is home to an invaluable program for high school graduates hoping to get into public service. It’s called the Public Safety Cadet Program, and it gives on-the-job experience while paying for college tuition.

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When Daniel Perry is not in class at Metro State University of Denver, there’s a good chance you’ll find him patrolling a Denver park on horseback. The Mounted Patrol Unit is just one of the many jobs he’ll try out during his four years in college.

Perry’s work with the unit is not easy. He works more than 30 hours a week and spends a portion of that time tending to the horses.

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In his past two years with the program, Perry worked with several other Denver public safety departments, including the Denver Jail.

“So we get that really unique point of view being able to work with all of them and really see how they’re operating behind the scenes,” Perry said.

It’s all following the lead of his father – a former cadet and current DPD officer. Perry also took classes in high school geared toward public safety.

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“It made me fall in love with public safety,” he said. “Hearing from the cadet program from my dad and experiencing those things, I figured public safety is where I wanted to be.”

Though Perry wants to be a firefighter, he’ll work at each of the public safety departments. In exchange, his degree at Metro State is paid for.

“It really is the golden ticket,” Perry said. “It’s your school, it’s your jobs, it’s your future career as well, and it makes someone extremely grateful for all those opportunities that you’re given.”

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One of the other benefits of this program is you have “cadet status” while applying for public safety jobs.

To apply for the program, you must be a high school graduate and an eligible student at University of Colorado Denver or Metro State University of Denver.

Conor McCue

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