BY HANNAH LESTER
LEE COUNTY —
Ever wanted to be sheriff?
The Lee County Sheriff’s Office is offering youth in the area a chance to be “sheriff for the day.”
“‘Sheriff for a day’ is a program that we are initiating to give two different age groups here in the county, actually, but to make it a chance for young people in our county to get a chance to literally hang out with the sheriff and the sheriff’s office for a portion of the day, and learn about how we operate, learn what sheriffs do,” said Lee County Sheriff Jay Jones. In this day and time, sometimes there’s confusion over the exact responsibilities and duties of different types of criminal justice agencies that are involved in our system.
“And we want to make sure that we provide an opportunity for our young people to learn about our system of justice and how the different agencies work together, and how we function as a whole — as a team — that makes up our system of justice here in the United States. We thought this would be a good way to do that, to make sure young people have a chance to learn the role of the sheriff.”
There will be two age groups offered the chance to spend a day with the sheriff — children aged 7 to 12 and 13 to 16.
A few months back, Jessica Henderson, Lee County’s media specialist, came up with the idea, Jones said.
“We’ve always been wanting to do, or make it part of our operation, to work with our young people, to establish relationships between our young people and our law enforcement agencies, to enhance the image and enhance the understanding that we are here as public servants and to help them,” Jones said. “Not as strictly an enforcement, engagement-type thing.”
The different age groups will have different days they spend with the sheriff’s office.
To apply, visit : www.leecountysheriff.org/sherifffortheday.
There, interested children will fill out an application and answer questions about their interests and what they may like to learn about.
“They actually get to kind of give us an idea of what their specific interest is,” Jones said. “We’re going to do a generalized program of education about what we do and who we are. But it also gives them a chance to say ‘Hey, I’m really particularly interested in,’ just, let’s say, ‘investigation.’ Or ‘I’m particularly interested in jail operations.’ Or ‘I’m particularly interested in forensics.’ Or ‘I’m particularly interested in patrol operations.’”
The deadline to apply will be Nov. 20 and the days will be held Jan. 3 and 4.
Jones said the purpose behind the program is also to let youth know why the sheriff’s office does what it does.
“The primary point is to increase their knowledge and a perspective that otherwise they may never would receive,” he said.
The sheriff said a goal would be to have this program held maybe twice a year.