WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – The Wichita Police Department and the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office say their nearly $10 million new training center is bringing them an increase in recruits.

Both joined in on a partnership with Wichita State University and opened an academy on campus last year.

Since then, they say they are seeing more interest from people wanting to earn the badge.

“I love that I get to help people,” said officer Austin Smith, Wichita Police Department. “I love that everyday is different.”

The last year has been a fulfilling one for him.

“Started the academy in January of 2019,” said Smith.

Wednesday, he gave KSN’s Tiffany Lane a glimpse of where it all began at the Wichita Sedgwick County Law Enforcement Training Center, also known as the academy on the Wichita State campus.

“This is actually the last classroom that I was in before I graduated,” said Smith in one of the rooms.

He was one of the first criminal justice students at WSU to have class on the third floor of the academy when it opened in January 2018, before he graduated college and joined the police department this year.

“You pass by police officers, sheriff’s deputies, sergeants, lieutenants, captains as soon as you walk through the door downstairs,” said Smith.

WPD believes this interaction has helped recruit more applicants.

The department had a startling increase from just over 500 in 2015 to about 900 new recruits in this year.

The Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office say they are also noticing an increase.

“The exposure that the students get to see with our folks and our action that they get to see that goes on in this facility,” said Lt. Tracy Spreier. “So, it gives them a closer relationship.”

Smith believes that interaction will continue to attract more students to protect and serve.

“There were students that I saw my time here in classes that I have seen in the next academy class right behind me,” he said.

Both departments say they have other efforts to recruit applicants as well, including social media outreach and career fairs.