WYOMING, Minn. (WCCO) — The Wyoming Police Department launched a first-of-its kind program in the state of Minnesota on Tuesday.
Sean Sieleni, and 18-year-old who has Down Syndrome, is the state’s first “Growth Through Opportunity” or GTO cadet.
The program allows young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to volunteer with their police department for 16 weeks, gaining social experiences and job skills.
He won’t be on patrol duty, but he will walk away with quite the resume.
“How to live independently, how to fill out job applications, how to do interviews for job opportunities, how to work in the employee structure, how to take work direction,” said Police Chief Paul Hoppe.
The benefits are two-fold.
“At the end of the day, we are a police department for the entire community, including the disabled… sometimes how people react during high-stress situations… the signals can sometimes be misinterpreted by law enforcement so we really want to bridge that gap,” said Hoppe.
A suggestion from the mayor and a conversation with Sean’s mom, Leslie, helped Chief Paul Hoppe bring the idea to life.
“Coming together with one idea, talking to somebody else with another idea and then bringing this all together speaks a lot to the synergy that we have created in our small city,” said Mayor Lisa Iverson.
Adding to the perfect setting is Sean’s brother, who just happens to be police reserve officer there.
“I wanted to be a police officer because my brother is a police officer and I get to be a police officer like him too,” said Sieleni.
The GTO program started at a police department in the state of Virginia, but so far, Minnesota is the only other state to offer it.
A fundraising page has been set up to help it expand in our state.