Young Lawrence County residents who feel called to a career in public safety may be interested in a new program starting at the Lawrence County Sheriff’s Office.
The program is designed to introduce young citizens—ages 14 to 20 years old—to local career paths in law enforcement, fire service, and emergency medical services, according to Chief Deputy Tim Sandlin.
“It’s a difficult time to recruit and retain law enforcement officers right now. It’s a competitive market. We’re putting a lot of focus on recruiting the next generation of public safety personnel, it only makes sense to begin with youth engagement,” Sandlin said.
He said the new Public Safety Cadet program expands on the Sheriff’s Department’s former Explorer Program, which kicked off shortly after Sheriff Max Sanders took office in January of 2019 but ended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sandlin said unlike the Explorer Program, the new Public Safety Cadet program not only offers cadets a glance into career opportunities within law enforcement but will also give participants an inside look into local fire service and emergency medical service fields. He said the Sheriff’s Office is partnering with local EMS and the Moulton Fire Department to provide the program.
Sandlin said he was re-introduced to Public Safety Cadets, a national nonprofit organization founded by active duty and retired law enforcement officers, when he completed a community leadership course through the Sheriff’s Department near the end of 2020.
“Years ago—probably over 20 years ago, we had this program,” Sandlin said. “We actually have former cadets who are working in public safety in Lawrence County today. There are two or three firefighters or EMTs and a few police officers in neighboring communities who came out of the cadet program, so it’s proven to be successful.”
Though the program will focus primarily on those three fields of public service, Sandlin said any Lawrence County student who wants to build leadership skills is encouraged to apply.
“The Sheriff is committed to supporting the community, and what’s in it for us that we’re teaching our young people and getting them more educated about public safety. Even if you’re not interested in becoming a police officer or a fire fighter, there is a lot of value in learning how to become a model citizen and what is expected of you in an emergency situation,” said Sandlin.
He said students may also benefit from future scholarship opportunities and building strong resumes from the program.
The cadet program will see participants offered mentorships through partnering agencies and will include regular monthly meetings, tours of participating facilities and include some hands-on activities for new cadets.
Those interested in taking part may contact their School Resource Office or contact Sandlin at the Sheriff’s Department by calling 256-974-2500.