Junior Deputy Academy offers lessons in law enforcement
By Kelsey Keener
Deputies Jay Sissener and Brenda Pires led the Iron County Sheriff’s Office Junior Deputy Academy last month, giving youths in the community the opportunity to learn about law enforcement from a new perspective.
Junior Deputy Academy runs for three weeks every June and is offered to anyone between 12 and 18 years old. Participants begin each day with physical training before going through procedures or learning in a classroom-like setting. The Academy gives participants the chance to learn a wide variety of law enforcement tactics, procedures and policies. In addition to learning about ethics and laws, Junior Deputy Academy offers the chance to ride along for traffic stops and vehicle searches, learn defense tactics, evidence collection and analysis, jail procedures, firearms and building clearing procedures, emergency vehicle operations, K9 tactics and several other aspects of law enforcement.
Deputy Pires said that participants also experience what a job interview is like.
“They do mock interviews at the end with the Sheriff and a couple of the VIPS (Volunteers in Police Service), which is probably a little intimidating for them, but a really good experience,” she said.
Deputy Sissener added this academy helps kids understand a deputy or officer’s perspective, not just what is portrayed on the media.
“Here they to get to come in and actually see what we’re doing and see our side of law enforcement,” he said. “We try to make it as close as we can to the real Police Academy.”
Deputy Sissener also said understanding this perspective can help put some onto a better path.
“We’ve had a lot of kids that are teetering with being on the wrong side of law enforcement, that have gone through this class and now are great law-abiding citizens and they thank us,” he said.
In addition to seeing a different side of law enforcement, Junior Deputy Academy helps participants decide if this is a career path they are interested in. Many who have gone through this program have gone on to work for various law enforcement agencies. Some also learn that they are more interested in Crime Scene Investigation or another part of law enforcement that is not necessarily being a deputy.
Sheriff Mark Gower said that the academy can help promote healthier lifestyles as well.
“We have some kids that come into this that you can tell haven’t done a lot of (physical training) in their life, they’re not physically active,” he said. “At first, they’re a little intimidated by that, but we work with them and by the end of that three-week period they’ve got a new outlook. Some of them carry that on and keep exercising, it starts them on a healthier lifestyle.”
Deputy Sissener said they try to get instructors from different law enforcement agencies, so participants get to interact with many different officers and get a well-rounded view of law enforcement.