Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the purpose of the RAND/LAPSEN Census of Youth Law Enforcement Experience Programs and Practices?

    The purpose of the project is to conduct a census of youth law enforcement experience programs and practices, identify promising programs and practices, and develop resources—including a census database, a toolkit with detailed implementation guides, and a project website—to support law enforcement agencies’ (LEAs) implementation of promising programs and/or to refine their youth recruitment practices to create a recruitment pipeline.

    The census of an estimated 4,000 youth law enforcement experience programs will focus on both non-school programs (e.g., internship-type programs, explorer-type programs, youth camps/academies) and in- school, career programs (e.g., stand-alone high schools, career academies, career and technical education programs, pipeline programs).

  • Who is conducting this project?

    The census is being conducted by RAND, a private, nonprofit research organization based in Santa Monica, California. RAND conducts objective public policy research in many areas. To do so, RAND is partnering with the Law and Public Safety Education Network (LAPSEN) a non-profit, multi-state consortium, that provides technical assistance and training to school systems, law enforcement agencies and other local organizations.

    In addition, a Technical Advisory Group (TAG) comprised of 12 members is providing expertise and assisting with the development of the census database and identification of promising programs. The TAG will also provide input on the development of resources including the planned implementation guide. Please see the TAG page.

  • Who is funding the project?

    The census of youth law enforcement experience programs is being funded by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS Office).

  • What are the program categories for inclusion in the census database?

    The program categories were developed in consultation with the TAG and include:

    • Non-school programs: These programs are typically managed exclusively by one LEA as a pipeline for recruitment. The different types of non-school programs include:
      • Internship-type programs: Internship-type programs are typically for high school graduates or college students between 18 and 21 and operate under different labels such as cadet, internship, or apprenticeship. These programs offer paid or volunteer positions and operate full or part-time, for a school semester, or with other variations. Internship-type programs are used to help youth decide if law enforcement is a right career for them and whether they want to work in the hosting department. Participants receive some training for the type of work they perform which can vary widely, and only rarely have the same authority for arrest as a sworn officer.
      • Explorer-type programs: Explorer posts are established and sponsored by local, state, and federal LEAs for youth ages 14 to 21 and provide training and exposure to law enforcement. There are two national explorer-type programs: Law Enforcement Exploring ( and Public Safety Cadets ( Local LEAs also sponsor similar programs that are not affiliated with these national programs.
      • Youth camps/academies: Youth camps and teen academies or similarly named programs are run by LEAs for middle or high school students interested in law enforcement and are typically at least 40 hours. Some are residential some stretch over a period of time such as the summer.
    • School-career programs: These programs are typically administered through a public school system with LEA involvement and focus on preparing students for public safety careers. The different types of school-career programs include:
      • Stand-alone high schools: These high schools focus entirely on law and public safety careers (e.g., Houston High School for Law and Justice).
      • Law enforcement career academies: These academies operate within high schools (e.g., LAPD Police Academy Magnet Schools, Reseda High School, Los Angeles, CA).
      • Career and technical education (CTE) programs: These programs are affiliated with high schools, including:
        • Center programs: High schools send their students for part of the week to participate in a career program (e.g., Criminal Justice Program at the May Center, Mount Morris, NY).
        • Concurrent enrollment: High school students take college courses in a career area (e.g., Iowa uses this model almost exclusively).
        • Comprehensive high schools: High schools that offer a number of career programs to both their students and students from other schools in the same school system (e.g., Chantilly High School, Fairfax, VA).
    • Pipeline programs: These are programs that can include middle, high school, or post high school students. Pipeline programs consist of two or more unique programs that are sequential. For example, pipeline programs may be a high school CTE program that feeds into a cadet program or a middle school exposure program that feeds into an explorer program or high school career program. An example of a pipeline program is:
      • An LAPD supported pipeline program (ages 13-21) that includes two middle school police academies that feed into seven magnet high school police academies, which in turn can feed into POPP (Police Orientation and Preparation Program). POPP is a two-year Associate’s Degree program supported by the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles Unified School District, and the Los Angeles Community College District.
  • What criteria are being used to select programs for the Census?

    The criteria we are using to select the programs are: (a) the program must have direct involvement with a law enforcement agency; (b) the primary focus of the program is on career preparation and recruitment; and (c) the program targets high school age or older (Note: Middle or junior high school ages will be included if part of a pipeline program).

  • How will you identify programs to be included in the Census?

    We are identifying programs for inclusion by drawing first from lists of existing programs from the following organizations and associations: Learning for Life—Law Enforcement Explorers, Public Safety Cadets, North East Regional Law Enforcement Educational Association (NERLEEA), and LAPSEN. We are conducting systematic web searches using keywords for each program type to identify additional potential law enforcement experience programs.

  • What information will be collected about each program?

    • Contact Information
      • Program Name (e.g., post number)
      • Organization Name (e.g., school name)
      • Web site address
      • Primary contact name
      • Primary contact title (e.g., teacher, program specialist, etc.)
      • Program or primary contact email
      • Program or primary contact phone number
      • Program mailing address (Street, City, State, Zip Code)
    • Program Information
      • Age range served
      • Reach (average # of youths served annually)
      • Length (e.g., school year, 2-week summer session, etc.)
      • Intensity (e.g., weekly 90-minute sessions, monthly 3-hour sessions)
      • If available, brief program description
      • If applicable, law enforcement agencies involved (with contact information if available)
      • If applicable/available, staff (# of full/part-time staff or FTE)
      • If applicable/available from school or LEA, recruitment data
  • How can I nominate my program for inclusion in the Census?

    This is an opportunity to make a valuable contribution to the first census of youth law enforcement experience programs and practices in the United States. We want to include as many programs as possible to ensure this is a valuable resource for LEAs, schools, or other organizations working with youth who are interested in developing a program in this area or in refining their youth recruitment practices.

    If you think your program is a candidate for inclusion in the Census, please contact us at:

  • What happens to the program information provided?

    All program information will be included in the searchable Census database to be hosted on the LAPSEN website.

    Any products and resources from this project will be published on the RAND website.

  • Besides the census database, what other products and resources will result from the project?

    In addition to the database of all programs, there will be a toolkit with implementation guides for selected promising programs or practices, and a training and technical assistance team to support the development and improvement of programs after the end of the project.

    LAPSEN will also create a training and technical assistance team to support LEA implementation nationally during and after project completion. This team will be maintained and supported by LAPSEN to support LEA efforts.

  • When will the products and resources from the project be made publicly available?

    We anticipate that the products and resources for the project, including census database and toolkit with detailed implementation guides will be made publicly available by September 2022 pending approval by the COPS Office.

  • How will the products and resources from the project be shared?

    Our dissemination plan is designed to reach the individuals who can put the information and tools to use in recruiting youth into law enforcement. We expect to reach this audience through professional conferences, organizational newsletters, and publications. The TAG also has agreed to disseminate information, products, and resources from this project to their membership.

  • How can I get on the distribution list for information about this project?

    Our dissemination plan is designed to reach the individuals who can put the information and tools to use in recruiting youth into law enforcement. We expect to reach this audience through professional conferences, organizational newsletters, and publications. The TAG also has agreed to disseminate information, products, and resources from this project to their membership.

  • What if I have questions?

    If you have any questions about the project or would like to learn more about it, please contact the project leader, Lois Davis, at, tel. 310-393-0411, ext. 7330. You can also send an email to:

    If you have any questions about the COPS Office interest in this area, please contact the COPS Office project manager Nicole Pruss at