WTVM Editorial 01/17/23: Sheriff for a day

Published: Jan. 17, 2023 at 11:19 AM EST
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Lee County, Alabama Sheriff Jay Jones last week gave a 15 year old boy the chance to be “Sherriff for a Day.”

It’s a great idea to give young people a close-up, real life lesson in what law enforcement looks like from the inside.

This is Dustin Merritt, “Sheriff for a Day,” getting to tour Sheriff Jones’ office in Opelika and meeting with deputies to understand what it takes to be a law enforcement officer.

It’s very smart of Sheriff Jones to offer this opportunity and he told us he wants to create more of these experiences in the future.

Sheriff Jones hopes to teach teenagers the responsibilities of deputies and to perhaps encourage kids to choose law enforcement as a career.

It’s a high demand occupation, where qualified candidates will always find employment.

Besides having good grades, a clean driving record, and keeping out of trouble, there are other important life skills desired by police recruiters that might surprise you.

It’s not even essential to have a big interest in guns or even solving crimes.

Since dealing with people is a major part of policing, the qualities of empathy, understanding and being a good communicator are all necessary to be a successful career officer.

Being smart and observant are two other highly valued personal traits.

So is a sincere desire to help the community by serving.

The best thing is that all of these qualities make for a successful adult overall, not just a successful law enforcement officer.

The more that young people like Dustin Merritt and others can learn first-hand about the demands and realities, (not just the stereotypes) about policing, the more that young people will understand the sense of purpose and personal rewards that come with a career in law enforcement.