Law enforcement workforce gets a boost in Coconino County
Page, AZ | Submitted by Brent Neilson, Ed.D.
Ensuring that students have a path from school to career is a big part of what Arizona’s CTEDs (career and technical education districts) do every day. CAVIAT (Coconino Association for Vocations, Industry and Technology) in northern Arizona is specially tuned in to what local industries are looking for and how they can help local youth prepare for those careers.
Established in 2001, CAVIAT serves Flagstaff, Fredonia, Grand Canyon, Page and Williams. With programs that include culinary arts, welding and automotive, youth in their six partner high schools have diverse opportunities.
Knowing that local law enforcement is facing workforce shortages, the Coconino County Arizona@Work Business services team, of which CAVIAT is a partner, created a unique educational opportunity. The program would help students experience what life is like in law enforcement.
Working with local agencies and community colleges, the Coconino County Arizona@Work Business services team orchestrated career events at two high schools. Students had the chance to hear from those working in different agencies, along with how they got there and how they’ve used education to advance their career. And because education plays a role, Coconino Community College shared details on their criminal justice programs and how they connect to Northern Arizona University.
From there, youth visited the local sheriff’s office. They got a first-hand look at dispatch calls, heard from a detention officer and learned about police search and rescue. They even watched a demo with the bomb squad’s robot.
To get them really engaged, CAVIAT is helping them to sign up for first aid training, as well as Community Emergency Response Team preparation. Those who are interested can shadow a local officer or sign up for a ride-along.
At a follow-up event, students will get hands-on experience with the police’s incident simulator, as well as search and rescue practice. They’ll also work with crime scene investigators to better understand their role in the law enforcement world.
Hearing from officers about the requirements to work in their roles is helping to keep youth on the right track. With 40 students already participating in the first cohort, the law enforcement program is sure to have an impact. By the end of the school year, the Coconino County Arizona@Work Business services team hopes to have each student either employed or continuing their education. In Arizona, 13 percent of youth are neither working nor in school. Keeping them focused on an end goal is critical to meeting the Arizona Education Progress Meter goal to get this to 7 percent by 2030.
Many other local groups have helped to make it a success. Local businesses provided door prizes to keep kids engaged and many officers took time to share their personal experiences. Having many agencies involved ensured that students get a wide variety of perspectives. The initiative has been so successful that many youth have already signed up for ride-alongs and have become CPR certified. CAVIAT’s work is sure to encourage more youth to pursue education beyond high school.