Get them while they’re young.

That’s the strategy of a program by the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department that’s meant to steer kids in the right direction in life and perhaps into a career in law enforcement.

On Thursday, April 25, the Sheriff’s Department announced its 2019 Sheriff’s Youth Academy, a program meant for Guilford County youngsters interested in learning more about the law enforcement operations of the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department – as well as about other public safety and military careers.

The classes for the kids will start on Monday, June 17 and run through June 26.

The Sheriff’s Department, like other law enforcement agencies around the country, has been facing issues with vacancies in recent years and, while this won’t help with that problem right away, the program could get more kids into the law enforcement pipeline and help the situation several years down the road.

According to the department, “The Youth Academy will present a range of topical training subjects condensed from some of the standard training curriculum for law enforcement officers.  By presenting this program, we hope to provide a positive career development experience which will acquaint attending youth with the goals and functions of a working law enforcement or first responder agency.”

One goal of the academy is to “stimulate a positive interest in law enforcement in youth,” and another is to, “heighten awareness of the positive aspects of being a good citizen, as well as to instill a sense of patriotism in the cadets.”

Those who take part in the program will learn about the basic functions of a law enforcement agency, as well as learn the requirements of a career in law enforcement.

One very cool thing participants will get to do is something that members of the local media got to do a couple of years ago: Go through the department’s “Firearms Simulator Training,” a video training program where they have to think quick as to whether to hold their fire or blow a bad guy away to save themselves.   The program will also include education about career preparation, texting and driving, DWI prevention, handcuffing techniques, police chases, physical fitness training and working with K-9 officers and bomb robots.

The academy is open to all current law enforcement Explorers, as well as to students from local middle and high schools between the ages of 13 and 17. According to the department, “Students may be accepted upon referral from a School Resource Officer or by parents/legal guardians who wish for their son/daughter to participate.”

Bad apples need not apply.  A description of the program from the department reads, “Note: This is not a ‘boot camp’ or rehabilitation academy.  AT RISK students, who have criminal histories, extensive negative involvement with law enforcement and/or the juvenile justice system, poor grades, poor conduct, and/or regular in or out of school suspensions WILL NOT be accepted into the program.”

The academy will begin with an orientation session on Friday, June 14. Orientation is mandatory and at least one parent or legal guardian must attend.  The deadline for application submission is Monday, June 10 at 5 p.m.

There’s a very specific dress code: “Academy students will be provided with T-shirts and baseball caps as academy uniforms.  Students will be required to wear khaki type cargo pants to complete the academy uniform. Students will also be required to wear a white crew neck t-shirt and black athletic/basketball shorts for physical training.  Purchase options for khaki pants will be provided at the orientation meeting.  Footwear should be sneakers or athletic training type shoes.”

Those interested should contact the Community Resource Unit by phone at 336-641-3378 or by email