CHAMPION, Ohio (WKBN) – Ohio needs new police officers. The state has experienced a shortage over the past several years.

Starting this October, Kent State University at Trumbull is starting a Youth Police Academy Experience to gain new recruits.

It’s for high school seniors across Trumbull County looking to join the police force.

A pilot program happened last spring at Warren Harding High School, giving students exposure to police work.

“A lot of the young learners that say, ‘I want to be a police officer,’ they kind of get lost in those few years after high school, the ones that want to go right into the police, you know, police academy,” said Lorie Singer-Bare, a lecturer in criminology and justice studies.

Students will learn different tasks, like impaired driving detection, writing patrol reports and mock courtroom scenarios.

“They talk about testifying in court and how all of that comes to light in that setting,” said Singer-Bare.

Police staffing shortages are a big reason why this program exists. According to the Police Executive Research Program, officer staffing levels dropped nearly 3.5 percent from 2020 to 2021. Resignations jumped almost 43 percent since 2019.

Because of staffing shortages around the state, Singer-Bare hopes that this new program can help recruit new officers.

“We want them to be exposed to different professionals within the field and to see this as an opportunity for them to meet individuals and to, you know, spark good relationships,” Singer-Bare said.

The program is limited to 50 students. People can register until September 10.

The first class for the Youth Police Academy Experience starts October 3.