With all the bitterness and backbiting we all hear coming out of Washington or Raleigh, it would seem public service would be the least attractive of any profession available to young people coming out of college or career training program today.

For kids still in high school, the negativity in the news and the talk in capitol buildings seems to drive them away. Can anyone blame them?

Actually, working in the public sector is some of the most important work people can do. Whether it is manning fire hoses, inspecting dilapidated buildings, keeping a true tally of taxpayer money or making sure a strong flow of information exists from government agencies to the people, doing the public’s work is vital.

Although many internship programs exist for college and trade students, very few public agencies open their doors to high schoolers. But the Roanoke Rapids Police Department is not one of those agencies.

To that end, we salute police Chief Chuck Hasty for his intern program we reported on Sunday.

And it’s not as if Hasty is trying to reinvent the wheel when it comes to interesting young people in law enforcement. He is simply opening the police department’s doors to a high school student who wants to help out. From there, interns are selected.

This is win-win for police and for the students. If, after a short time, students who prove to have a high interest in law enforcement may earn training. Those with less interest and little desire for an internship after volunteering at least have been exposed to police policies and procedures and certainly will be better citizens for the experience.

Once interns complete their work with the RRPD, it is up to them if they decide to return after they have reached the age to become an officer or received the formal training.

The ball shifts into the court of the young person to decide if a career in law enforcement is for them. It’s like Hasty said about intern Brandon Barnes in The Daily Herald’s Sunday report, “We want people to see what we do every day,” which includes the menial and mundane as well as the exciting and engaging.

“Brandon’s done a great job with us. He’s a good kid, and I see a lot of potential for him. The ultimate goal is to get him to come back here after college and work for us.”

Sheriff Wes Tripp in Halifax County has a similar idea about bringing along young people in the ranks with the hope of them eventually coming to work for the sheriff’s office.

Tripp announced in August he would start up a Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post, a volunteer program for 14-20 year olds “interested in a career in law enforcement, a personal awareness of the criminal justice system through training, practical experiences and other activities.”

Those who submit applications meet the same requirements for becoming a deputy sheriff: No criminal background and a good moral code.

Tripp said, like Hasty, “We’re always looking for qualified candidates to come to work for us full time, and we thought what better way than to have an Explorer Post, and getting people that are interested in maybe becoming a deputy sheriff when they reach the age of 21.”

We wish the best for Hasty and Tripp, their programs and the students that partake. No matter what the outcome, the students and the agencies will be better off for the programs. And maybe, programs like these can take away some of the bad taste for public services that many people, young and old, are having a difficult time digesting.

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