THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Kimberly Dickens has quite some time to pursue her dream occupation of becoming a U.S. Marshall. But this week, the 15-year-old rising junior at Edgecombe Early College took a giant step in that direction by enrolling in the Edgecombe County Sheriff's Department Junior Sheriff's Academy.
Dickens is one of 12 cadets who are participating in the department's inaugural program.
"I want to be a U.S. Marshall, therefore this will look good on my resume," Dickens said. "I've enjoyed it so for."
The program is designed to give cadets a glimpse at law enforcement procedures. Edgecombe County Sheriff James Knight said, "We hope to lessen misconceptions the public may have in regard to the functions of the sheriff's office."
Other objectives Knight pointed out are for the program to prevent misunderstanding about law enforcement functions, provide the public with the opportunity for feedback and suggestions, increase community support and awareness about sheriff's office operations through education and exchanging of ideas and to create responsible, well-informed citizens who influence public opinion on law enforcement practices and services.
Keshaun Anderson, 15, isn't interested in working in the law enforcement field. "We already have too many in our family," he said. "I signed up because it teaches me the laws and what to expect when drinking while driving and texting and driving.
The cadets drove a golf cart through a coned-obstacle course wearing goggles that simulated driving while impaired. They also drove through a course while texting. On Wednesday, none of the cadets who drove through the texting course did so without knocking over cones.
Dickens said the most interesting class so for was a mock drill of a 1st degree murder crime scene. The cadets investigated the crime and arrested a suspect. On Friday the suspect will have a mock trial at Edgecombe County Courthouse.
"This is another way the Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office is working with the citizens, not just the adults but also our youth to ensure that Edgecombe County is a safer place for tomorrow," Knight said. "We want our youth to know that we’re not just here to enforce the laws, we are also here to be mentors for our young people. We want to show them that you can be and do anything you want to if you just put your mind to it and push yourself towards it."
Deputy Cpl. Elwood Whitakers is the primary instructor for the program. The class is scheduled to end Friday. Applications for the program can be picked up at the sheriff's offce. Consent forms must be signed by parents in order for an applicant to attend. Another class is scheduled for July 8. Whitaker said so far, the first class has been a success.
"The cadets were a little bit apprehensive in the beginning but once they got involved, they liked it," Whitaker said. "The parents like it, the sheriff likes it ... everybody likes it. I hope that the general public get behind us and support the kids that go through our program."