Sheriff Youth Week Gives Teens A Look Into Police Work

July 18, 2017
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Students learned about equipment from officers at the county-sponsored Sheriff Youth Week. Photos by Matt Lobosco.

By Matt Lobosco |

FREEHOLD – Young students in Monmouth County who aspire to work in law enforcement are getting first-hand experience of the job this summer.

Wednesday marked the third day of the weeklong Sheriff Youth Week at the Monmouth County Student Training and Response Simulator Facility. The annual program, which began in 1992, provides young people with the opportunity to explore interests in law enforcement through police academy-style training, physical fitness and instructional sessions. The program has grown from just 16 participants in its first year to 119 participants this year with 38 different towns represented within the group of students, according to Monmouth County Sheriff Shaun Golden.

On Wednesday, students underwent a series of instructional demonstrations and simulations. The activities are meant to allow students to see through their eyes how to handle critical emergency situations where split-second decisions must be made. The different activities included interactive rescue simulations, motor vehicle stops, K-9, drone and equipment demonstrations, as well as a presentation of a firearms simulator. Each presentation and simulation was conducted by members of multiple divisions of the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office, including corrections and special operations, as well as members of the Monmouth County Emergency Response Team, which essentially operates as the county’s SWAT team.

Golden emphasized the importance of the experience and exposure students gain through the program.

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“Sheriff Youth Week for us is to give our young adults an experience in law enforcement and public safety,” Golden said. “They are getting an idea of not only how we train, but a lot of the resources we have at our disposal for law and public safety here in Monmouth County.”

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Golden also said while the Sheriff Youth Week is meant primarily to educate, it is much more rigorous than a typical summer program. Students undergo hours of drills and physical training every day and are obligated to maintain a scrupulous attention to detail and level of obedience.

“We call it a summer camp, but it’s not your usual summer camp,” Golden said. “It’s not a basketball camp; it’s not a sports camp.”

Students Kayla Fenton, 17 years old from Middletown, and David Smith, 14 years old from Spring Lake Heights, each agreed that the physical training is the most difficult part of the program.

Fenton, who is participating in Sheriff Youth Week for the fourth time, says her father influenced her pursuit of a career in law enforcement. “My dad is in corrections now and that’s kind of what inspired me to go through all the processes that I’m going through right now,” she said.

Fenton is currently in a specialized law enforcement vocational school called the Academy of Law and Public Safety, part of the Monmouth County Vocational School District, located in West Long Branch.

Although it is Smith’s first year participating in Sheriff Youth Week, the program has already had a major impact on him. “In the beginning of the week I was pretty sure I wanted to become a police officer, but I know now that I want to be a police officer,” he said.

Sheriff Youth Week is free of charge and applications are accepted from students who have graduated 8th grade, who are in high school or who have just graduated from high school. The program will culminate on Friday, July 14 with a graduation ceremony at the Monmouth County Police Academy.

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This article was first published in the July 13-20, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.

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