Learning by Doing: Napa County Students Complete Sheriff’s Internship Program

December 7, 2017
Napa Valley Register

Three Napa County teenagers are the first students to complete the Napa County Sheriff’s new internship program. For 10 weeks, the high school seniors learned self-defense tactics, how to work a crime scene and performed X-rays in the coroner’s office.

“I got an idea about what I really want to do,” said Xochilt Fermin, 18. Fermin, a senior at New Technology High School, said that now she knows she wants to be in law enforcement. She plans to attend Napa Valley College and enroll in the police academy as soon as she can.

Every week, students were exposed to different aspects of law enforcement, she said.

“This particular internship is not just filing papers or sitting behind a counter,” said Camlory Torres, 17. “No – you’re working with different people of all departments in the department … you get a sense of everything.”

Torres, a senior at American Canyon High School, decided that she wanted to work in law enforcement during her junior year. So, over the summer, she tried to figure out what internships were available to her.

When she realized that she would be among the first students to participate in the Sheriff’s program, she was excited.

“When I first got here I was like ‘Wow, I’m really gonna experience everything,’ and that’s what happened,” Torres said.

New Tech High School senior Dylan Dunn, 17, approached the Sheriff’s Office over the summer about a possible internship. Many of his family members are in law enforcement and he’s been thinking seriously about getting into the field for the last two years because he wants to help the community.

“If you want to learn more about law enforcement or work in law enforcement, it’s a great experience,” Dunn said. “It is the closest thing that I know of to being a deputy without being a deputy.”

The Sheriff’s program is the only law enforcement internship opportunity in the county offered to Napa Valley Unified School District students, says Amber Cleveland of the district.

“It’s above and beyond just an internship; it’s a true mentorship,” Cleveland said. The students have been able to interview multiple professionals in the field and have bonded with their mentor program coordinator Sgt. Mark Foster. “They’re sad it’s over.”

In addition to shadowing deputies and participating in hands-on activities, each week the interns had to read academic articles related to law enforcement and write college-level essays. They also discussed relevant topics such as mental health, homelessness, cultural diversity and use of force.

“It gets them prepared to come onto the job and actually write a report,” said Foster, who has written thousands of reports during his law enforcement career. Thanks to the internship, he said, the students have an idea about what to expect from a career in law enforcement.

“The goal is hopefully to get these kids that are members of our community … (to) come back and join the department,” Foster said. “It’s our way of getting young people in this community to get into this job (and) work in the community that we live in.”

Foster said that he would love for the students to come back to the Sheriff’s Office again as college interns – another internship program recently implemented by the department – and eventually employees.

Students interested in learning more about the Sheriff’s internship program should contact Amber Cleveland with Napa Valley Unified School District at amber_cleveland@nvusd.org or 707-253-6287.

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