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Sheriff's academy tries to bridge gap with East County teenagers

At some point during planning the annual Multnomah County Sheriff’s Citizen Academy, someone had the idea that teenagers might benefit from their own sessions.

Now in its third year, Deputy Rafael Cortada says the youth academy is growing in popularity.

“The first year it was a little hard getting people, but word has gotten around,” Cortada said. “What we’ve learned over the years is we don’t want the kids to feel it’s torture. They’re volunteering their Saturdays. We want to make sure it’s interesting and also pertinent to their lives.”

Starting April 13, the sheriff’s six-week youth academy covers topics such as rescues and how to diffuse a confrontation with language.

The program has a new element this year, Cortada said, to make it a bit more fun and interactive.

“The kids will learn something in one module and then demonstrate that skill,” he said. For example, taking the tools learned in first aid and search and rescue and translating them to a real-life situation.

“So we’re going to have them do a mock rescue in the (Columbia River) Gorge,” he said. “When they get there there will be a person with a sprained ankle or something and have to show what they learned in class about first aid.”

Cortada said he’s heard positive feedback from deputies conducting the sessions.

To register

The deadline for registratation is 5 p.m. Monday, April 4. The class is free and open to youth ages 14-17

For more information contact Deputy Rafael Cortada at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 503-793-7314

“The other deputies really enjoy teaching the classes too,” he said. “It really is a win-win for the community. The kids get to speak with police officers and police officers get to speak with them. These are kids who are interested in law enforcement or maybe they’re deciding if they want to pursue this as a profession.”

The class also helps bridge gaps between teenagers and law enforcement, providing a better understanding of what police do and how they can help.

“What I have found is people only know what a police officer does by watching a movie, and that is so far from the truth,” he said. “We’re human and we can be funny. I would say a vast majority of people I work with really care about the community and people.”

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