A police cadet training program believed to be the only one of its kind in Canada got underway Monday.

The program was first announced back in the spring.

The cadets will be trained in the use of force and will carry pepper spray, batons and handcuffs. The cadets will patrol by foot, often helping direct traffic or guarding a crime scene.

"We're not putting them out there so they are in a position to run out and make arrests. That's not their role. (It's) to be the eyes and ears (of police) with certain laws, like the Highway Traffic Act and the Liquor Control Act," said Winnipeg Police Chief Keith McCaskill.

The cadets will help free up officers so that police can spend more time on other crime-related tasks, said McCaskill.

Classes for the cadets started on Sept. 27 and the cadets are expected to begin field training on Winnipeg streets by Nov. 21, with the first class expected to graduate in January.  

About 200 people applied for the first year of the program, with 30 people selected.

- with a report from CTV's Stacey Ashley