CLEVELAND, OH – Why would anyone be motivated to pursue a risky job knowing their life will constantly be in danger? And with all the controversial cases that police officers become involved in—deadly shootings, riots, political clashes—how can anyone be motivated to serve?

Apart from the real-life dangers they will be facing, aspiring police officers have to undergo rigorous physical and mental training.

With weapons at their disposal, peace officers are accountable for life and death decisions. It is serious business. Preparing for predictable and unpredictable encounters makes training very important.

In an interview with Cleveland 19 News this week, cadets training at the Lorain County Community College (LCCC) spoke about their motivations to serve.

“I want to help people,” said Alexis Arend. “I want to serve my communities. I want to protect people, also — that’s the main reason.”

Does she fear the dangerous aspects of the job? “No, not at all. Not at all because at the end of the day I want to go home knowing that I helped people, that I protected people,” she said. “That’s all I’m worried about.”

Fellow cadet Scott Chase is being put through academy training by the Bay Village Police Department. “Even though it’s hard times, I’m going to be there for people no matter what,” he said. “They can rely on me and that saying goes for every other police officer and every other person that’s in this academy with us.”

The cadets undergo difficult training—750 hours of study, including 60 on the firing range learning how to shoot. They also complete “shoot/don’t shoot” scenarios. The average citizen would be surprised how often cadets are symbolically killed during such training.

“Probably half of the people who apply to our academy are not accepted,” said Paul Graupmann, commander at the LCCC police training academy. He’s seeing fewer and fewer people wanting to become police officers. “The people that are coming to me are very dedicated, very determined to become police officers, which I like to see,” he said. “They make it much easier for them to train.”

Bottom line: Anyone who wants to be an officer of the law, must be good at what they do, be physically fit, mentally strong, drug-free, and ready to serve and protect while upholding the law.

We need strong and professional police officers, who are not afraid, and capable of doing what they are supposed to do. But the officers, being human, need our help and support to be able to do their job well. Community encouragement can be the lifeblood for individual officers and the agency that employs them. Let’s offer these basic necessities as they look after our interest.