Tuesday, 12 high school students enrolled in Tulsa Tech's Criminal Justice Program are celebrating after getting sworn in as the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office newest employees.
The young men and women are getting a jump start on their careers at just 18-years-old.
“It’s just one step closer to the career I want to go into. I’ve always wanted to [be in] law enforcement. It’s something I’ve always dreamed to do since I was little," said Raquel Sanchez.
Sanchez is now one of Tulsa County's newest detention officers.
This is the first class to graduate from a two year criminal justice program.
High school students take the program through a partnership between Tulsa Tech and the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office.
“You have young people saying look we’re getting into this job for the right reasons and to serve and thankfully to kids like this that are still coming into law enforcement and service related jobs we have a bright future," said Sheriff Vic Regalado.
Sheriff Regalado said like all law enforcement agencies across the country, they are struggling to find enough people to hire.
He said it's especially difficult to keep people working in the jail, where the 12 students will start.
“I will tell you that slowly but surely the majority of employees at David L. Moss are females. I’m very proud of that fact. 28 years ago I went through the academy, and I had one female in my class and now they are the majority," said Sheriff Regalado.
Raquel and her classmate Lauren Horsley said they are thankful for the program and the support from their family in following their passion of going into law enforcement.
“As you have the drive to be here and you put in the work and you’re schooling and you are willing to put in the work to be in this career I think it’s a good thing either way," said Horsley.
Tulsa Tech said all of the spots for next semester's criminal justice program are already full.