LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) —Thursday, the Little Rock Police Department signed standards to recognize that its apprentice training program is now certified by the U.S Department of Labor.

Chief Kenton Buckner said this program is great for the police department and the community.

“Anytime you can have someone verify that you're a professional organization that's a good feather in your cap for your police department,” he said.

The training program is based on three parts; the job training, technical instruction, and a progressive pay schedule for the apprentice. Chief Kenton Buckner said the new program offers CIT certification for all future recruit classes. He hopes these new additions will help fill their fifty four vacancies and help with future recruiting.

“Basically trained to deal with individuals who suffer from mental illness or may be going through some kind of crisis and all those individuals in the academy will now receive that forty hour certification coming out of the academy,” he said.

Dudley Light, with the U.S Department of Labor, said the Little Rock Police Department is the first agency in Arkansas that they've paired with.

“It gives them a credential signed by the U.S. Department of Labor that transferable and portable and stackable, it can be added to others. It gives the GI Bill benefits for the officers coming in and should help them with retention and recruiting better candidates,” he said.

Light said they plan to start the program as soon as possible and hopes more Arkansas agencies will join so they can keep expanding the workforce across the country.

“If you have another police department that's ready to go we will sit down with them and develop their standards and get it done,” he said.

Chief Buckner said he will make sure that the department sets a good example for future agencies who are interested in the program.