Local 2018 Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy underway | The Cullman Tribune

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2018 Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy underway

The Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy class of 2018 (W.C. Mann for The Tribune)

CULLMAN - The 2018 Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy (SYLA) is underway this week, with students receiving training in matters of law enforcement at locations around the county, including the Cullman County Sheriff’s Office, Wallace State Community College, Cullman Police Department, the fire association training center in Vinemont and Cullman Shooting Sports.  This year’s class has 38 students, an increase compared to previous years.

The class meets at Wallace State each morning at 5:45 for physical training (PT), then moves into activities and classes.  During the week, students engage in team-building exercises on a ropes course, climb a rock wall, rappel down a fire training tower, learn self-defense techniques, see K-9 and SWAT team demonstrations up close, learn about fingerprinting and crime scene investigation, face armed confrontations in a computerized simulator at Wallace State, and fire automatic and semiautomatic firearms on the range at Cullman Shooting Sports.

Students came to the academy from all over Cullman County and even has one student from Hartselle.

Lt. Rex Sorrow, who oversees the program, told The Tribune, “We don’t close it to just Cullman County students.  If there’s other students around close by that want to come, we’ll welcome them. They can grab an application and apply next year for next year’s academy.”

SYLA is a 40-hour program that takes place each July.  It has grown from 12 students to 38 in just three years.  Participants must be high school students who will be in 11th or 12th grade in the next school year.  

According to Sheriff Matt Gentry, SYLA seeks “Just those individuals that possess the desire or the want to be good leaders, to make a change in their community, that want to be part of something more than what they’re doing currently in school.  We want somebody that wants to be engrossed with law enforcement, leadership and their community.”

“It’s one of the visions that Sheriff Gentry had when he came into office, to create a youth leadership academy for all the students here in Cullman County,” said Sorrow.  “It’s a fun week. It’s a lot of work, but it’s a lot of fun! I think you get out of it what you put into it.”

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  • On Wednesday, students faced common armed confrontations in Wallace State’s simulator.
  • Students respond as a deputy throws twists into the computerized scenario, which can be altered “on the fly.”