By Sarrah Peters, News Editor
The Etowah County Sheriff’s Office hosted the 8th Annual Student Leadership Academy this past week. Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin started the program in 2011, and it is directed by Chief Deputy Michael Barton.
The students participating in the program were nominated by their principals. The principals nominated two incoming high school seniors. Students from private and public schools attended. The Etowah County Sheriff’s Office staff evaluated each student for demonstrated leadership, physical fitness, grade point average and community service.
The Student Leadership Academy’s mission is to “provide a unique, practical and educational experience for future leaders of Etowah County.”
The students are invited to spend the week learning about the various functions of the sheriff’s office and what it does.
Students traveled to Jacksonville State University, which partnered with the sheriff’s office for the program, where they spent the day learning more about crime scene investigation and forensic science; met with law enforcement and county officials; attended an Etowah County Commission meeting; participated in patrol ride-a-longs, complete with a patrol debriefing afterwards. On Wednesday, students learned about special operations in law enforcement. During the Motorcycle and Mounted Units, students learned how these forms of transportation can be used as crowd control and the training an officer undergoes to join these units. The Etowah County Arson Task Force taught the students about why someone might commit arson (for the insurance money) and how to prove if a fire is arson through the recognition of pour patterns and gasoline detection dogs. Students rode in the sheriff’s office helicopter as part of the Aviation Unit.
On Thursday, the final day of the academy, the students visited a court room and learned about maritime operations in law enforcement. In the afternoon, students received an exam on the material covered during the week-long program. After passing the exam, a graduation ceremony was held at the Pitman Theatre.
Jacksonville State University awarded three college credit hours to the program graduates.