From cadet to corrections
First youth police academy graduate joins police force
Mason Mitchell graduated from the first academy in 2018 and one month ago became a deputy sheriff in the corrections division of the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office.
The eight-week community outreach program is for youth ages 13-17 and gives those interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement a better understanding of the profession.
For Mitchell, who is a criminal justice major at Northern Michigan University, the program assured him of his career path and allowed him to meet potential employers.
“Anyone who is looking to go into law enforcement or any sort of public safety, this cadet program is great,” Mitchell said. “It’s not only a leg up, but you’re also getting a ton of information that you may not have known.”
Each week’s class focuses on a different area of law enforcement. Students have participated in mock trials in circuit court with local prosecutors and judges, drug recognition and crime scene investigation exercises, shadowed corrections and conservation officers, and learned about the special operations units, among other things.
Program participation can also encourage job recruitment and help individuals know if a law enforcement career is right for them, he said.
“The one thing that is really hard in this profession is keeping employees,” Mitchell said. “This job isn’t for everyone. There’s a lot of dangerous parts to it, so if you can go through and get this experience beforehand and know that this is a job you want, you’re not going to waste time maybe getting a degree … If I hadn’t been able to do this program, I might not have known that I wanted to do this career.”
Getting to meet professionals working in the field and learning more about the day-to-day tasks of the job made Mitchell confident in further pursuing his career with the sheriff’s office. So far, his favorite part of the job is being a first responder and knowing he can help in an emergency situation, he said.
A similar youth program is what inspired Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt to pursue his own career.
“I actually went through a cadet program when I was 13 years old with the Livonia Police Department, and that actually set the course for me for what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Zyburt said. “I’m hoping this will do the same thing with kids around the area. It’s kind of a recruiting tool because we have so many openings now. Not only throughout Marquette County, throughout the state, but throughout the nation. There’s a real shortage of people getting into law enforcement or corrections.”
He hopes the program shows youth that a career in this field is rewarding and inspires them to try it out.
“Honestly, I never had a mentor at the time or knew anyone in law enforcement, but once I saw how they did things, for me personally, it just set the tone and that’s all I ever wanted to do,” Zyburt said. “So high school, college, it was easy. I knew what classes I had to take to get through a police academy, I knew that you had to keep your nose clean, you had to be in good condition, it’s what I strived for and now 39 years later, who knew I’d be the sheriff?”
For more information on the youth police academy, visit the sheriff’s office webpage at www.co.marquette.mi.us.
Trinity Carey can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 206.