Teens and Young Adults Learn Police Work in Sheriff Dept. Cadet Program
(Lara Mossa, Dec. 5, 2018)
PONTIAC – When Ryan Tottingham goes into the U.S. Navy next year, he will already understand the discipline and structure it takes to be a good sailor. Tottingham, 20, of Lapeer is one of 20 young adults who participate in the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office’s Cadet program.
“My true passion has always been law enforcement,” said Tottingham, a Brandon High School graduate. “I was kind of drawn into the program from my school resource officer.”
Tottingham has been a Cadet for four and a half years.
Previously called the Explorer program, the Cadets spend at a minimum of 50 hours annually training and doing community service with deputies. The unpaid volunteer work was developed to recruit employees into the police profession.
“That’s probably one of the primary goals of the program is to get youth involved in law enforcement,” said Lt. Russell Yeiser. “It’s their initiation in seeing what we do and opening their eyes to it.”
The cadets are involved in community service programs that include traffic control, administrative tasks, football game security, child finger printing and help with parades or memorial ceremonies. In addition, they are involved in training such as active shooting situations, dive teams and community policing. If they are 18, they are eligible for ride-along experiences with the deputies. They shadow experienced employees and explore fields that include dispatch and forensic services among others.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Adam Kammer, who is a deputy with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office and adviser for the program. “It gives kids the opportunity who think they might be interested in a law enforcement career to really see the other side of it.”
Applicants must be 16 years old and no older than 21. They need to be working on a high school diploma, GED or post high school education to participate. They have a two-month probationary period and must pass a background investigation and application process as well as the Sheriff Cadet Academy.
While the Sheriff’s Office does not have trouble recruiting employees, the program gives the deputies a pool of experienced young men and women to enlist. Quite a few cadets left to go to college or the policy academy and come back here to the Sheriff’s Office or other agencies, Yeiser said.
Usually, the program has 30 participants. Cadet training takes place in the spring.
Tottingham, who is currently the Cadet Captain, said he has loved the experience. He enjoys the training and camaraderie among the offices.
“Hopefully, my goal is to come back to the Sheriff’s Office,” he said.
For more information, go to https://www.oakgov.com/sheriff/Law-Enforcement/Patrol-Units-and-Teams/Pages/Cadet-Unit.aspx