Mya Olague sounded like a recruiter Wednesday: she fired off questions to Sutter County Sheriff’s Capt. Chad Niswonger and Sutter County Deputy Probation Officer Meagan Hammond, asking what kind of characteristics are best for officers, what’s dangerous about the job, and why they got into it.
But Olague is no recruiter. She’s a junior at Albert Powell High School and is interested in one day becoming a detective. She and other students got to meet and talk with officers from the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office, Yuba City Police Department and Sutter County Probation as part of a "Cookies with a Cop" event at the school.
It was hosted by the Sutter County Juvenile Justice Committee with four Yuba City High School students at the helm: Nathaniel Ramirez, Kaylah Lutz, Katrina Ogiba, and Gracie Saalsaa. The committee had just finished up a tour at Juvenile Hall before the event and said their aim was to encourage positive interactions with local law enforcement.
“We wanted to learn more about juvenile justice and how it affects our community,” Ramirez said.
Niswonger and Hammond answered Olague’s questions: doing well in English classes is helpful in writing reports and other administrative work; English or psychology degrees may be better options since one in criminal justice can be restrictive; and characteristics like confidence, problem-solving skills, having a thick skin and staying composed is helpful in law enforcement.
“You’re not going to have people thanking you,” Niswonger told Olague. “You have to just know you’re making a difference.”
Sutter County sheriff’s deputy Matt Houser spoke with a group of three students about football. He said he enjoys opening a dialogue with kids in the community and hopes to become a school resource officer.
Yuba City police officers Dave Krause and Damien Geddis from the department’s traffic division spoke with students who asked them how they knew they wanted to be police and other aspects of the job. The traffic division regularly conducts presentations and events, and they said they enjoy getting face time with the community.
The Sutter County Juvenile Justice Committee – made up of student, community, probation and board representatives – hopes to bring the “Coffee with a Cop” idea to local schools and hopes to host the next one at a middle school.
Albert Powell High School Principal Jennifer Cates said coming together over food and drink is the simplest way she knows to create relationships and build trust.
“The goal is to let the students know that our law enforcement officers are real people who are leading pretty ordinary and regular lives while they continue to do a very dangerous job and endure a climate of negativity,” Cates wrote in an email Wednesday. “Conversely, I’d like law enforcement officers to know that teenagers are real people, too -- and emerging adults who desire the same amount of respect that we all do.”