NASSAU COUNTY, Fla. – The Nassau County Sheriff’s Office is giving teenagers a glimpse at what it’s like to be a deputy.
The goal? Sparking interest in joining law enforcement.
Three dozen teenagers are taking part in real-life scenarios as part of this year’s three-day “Teen Citizen Academy.”
It’s an eye-opening experience Sheriff Bill Leeper hopes leads to them wearing a badge.
“Our hope is that it will create some interest as they get older in law enforcement as a career choice, which will allow them to make that positive impact within their community,” Leeper said. “You certainly have to want to make a difference in their community.”
Scenarios range from a deadly shooting and eventual arrest of a suspect to a SWAT response and negotiations to get a suspect into custody peacefully.
For the shooting scenario, deputies back at the command center used a drone to locate the suspect. They were able to see every single thing that person was doing right on the screen using thermal imaging.
A sight that gave Jayden Bolognese a new perspective as she prepares to major in criminology in college.
“Like going to the gun range and doing fingerprints, I have seen it and I love criminal shows, but it was way more real, and I said, ‘yeah, I would love to do this,’” Bolognese said.
Deputy Camisha Miller is one of the instructors. Her son was in this year’s program.
Miller wants to inspire not only her son but all those watching her every move.
“I like helping people. For me to inspire someone else to want to help people, whether it is in the community or on the inside as far as corrections, it is a plus,” Miller said.
Leeper said after last year, a few teens joined the “Explorer Program” to shadow deputies in the field beyond the academy. The sheriff’s office recently hired two people from that program and sent them to the law enforcement academy to become deputies.