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Seven ways to get involved with law enforcement and first responders
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Residents of Forsyth County are well known for their support of first responders in the community, with countless events, drives and fundraisers occurring each year to help the men and women of law enforcement and emergency response serve the community.

But did you know that there are multiple different ways that you and your family can get involved, meet first responders and make a real connection to the work that they do?

Each year, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and Forsyth County Fire Department provide the community with a battery of different programs and opportunities for people of all ages to come and do just that.

Here are seven new and existing programs that will be available to county residents in 2019.

Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Program

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Since 1995, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post #740 has trained and provided young men and women from the local community with on-the-job training to prepare them for a career in law enforcement.

This program allows young men and women to train in the duties, responsibilities, methods and techniques of law enforcement officers, while giving them practical experience at a modern agency.

Students are required to be between the ages of 14 and 20 years of age, must maintain a minimum scholastic average of 2.0, must have and maintain a clean driving record, must be in good physical condition and must not have been convicted of a serious crime, according to the sheriff’s office website.

The explorers meet every Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Forsyth County Public Safety Training Complex at 3520 Settingdown Road in Cumming.

More information can be found by contacting SOSheriffExplorer@forsythco.com.

Forsyth County Fire Department Explorers Program

This program by the Forsyth County Fire Department, like the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Program, is designed for high school age students who can imagine a future in the fire service, according to Division Chief Jason Shivers of the Forsyth County Fire Department.

Shivers said that program is still in its development phase and a first exploratory meeting was held on Monday, Jan. 14.

To participate in the program, Shivers said that applicants should be between 14 and 19 years of age, with records from a current physical. A $36 fee is required with the application.

Once officially started, meetings for the Fire Department Explorers Program will be held every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

For more information on how to apply, contact Firefighter Zac Coleman at (678) 896-9443.

Forsyth County EMS Explorers

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Like the sheriff’s office explorers and fire department explorers programs, the Forsyth County EMS Explorers allows students aged 14 to 21 to train with real-world emergency medical skills and gain experience for a possible career in the field.

According to a program spokesperson, the group meets every other Saturday in the Forsyth County Public Safety Training Complex at 3520 Settingdown Road in Cumming, from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and covers skills from basic first aid to theoretic paramedic training.

For more information on meetings and how to apply, contact program director Adam Martin at (678) 936-0572.

Citizens Fire Academy

Registration is now open for one of the Forsyth County Fire Department’s most popular programs — the Citizens’ Fire Academy.

Now in its sixth year, the 10-week program allows local residents to step into the boots of local firefighters and learn what the profession takes.

According to the fire department website, participants must be at least 25 years old with no prior felony convictions and willing to commit to the entire program to apply.

The academy will be held on 10 consecutive Tuesday evenings from 6:30-9:30 p.m., starting on March 5 and continuing through May 21.

More information and an application packet can be found at www.forsythco.com. The website states that applications must be received by Feb. 15.

Citizens Law Enforcement Academy

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If you are interested in learning about how the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office operates from an insider’s view, the sheriff’s office Citizens’ Law Enforcement Academy program might be perfect for you.

This nine-week academy gives residents older than 21 authentic hands-on training and law enforcement knowledge in a fun, friendly environment. Topics of the academy include constitutional law, traffic stops, and judgmental use of force and features demonstrations of K9 and S.W.A.T. tactics and ride-alongs with local deputies.

According to Deputy Jenny Belafi of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, this academy will begin on March 11, meeting on consecutive Mondays from 6:30-9:30 p.m.

Belafi said that admission to the academy is strictly first come first serve and classes tend to fill quickly due to large amounts of interest from the community.

Because they host the program twice each year and if applicants are not accepted for the spring, they will be considered in the fall.

More information on how to apply can be found by contacting Belafi at jlbelafi@forsythco.com.

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Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

This program by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office allows citizens and organized groups to receive training to help first responders during the event of a major disaster.

According to the sheriff’s office website, during CERT training, citizens can learn how to prepare for, react to and recover from disasters in the community to help ease the burden on first responders.

For CERT applications and more info on this program, visit the sheriff’s office online at www.forsythsheriff.org, or contact program coordinator Cpl. Pete Sabella at pjsabella@forsythco.com.

Seniors and Lawmen Together (S.A.L.T.)

Since 2005, this partnership between the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, the Cumming Police Department and the Forsyth County Senior Center has been committed to preventing the victimization of senior citizens in the community.

According to the S.A.L.T. website, the monthly group gives local senior citizens a forum to interact with local law enforcement and other officials on topics of interest such as elder abuse, emergency preparedness, victim assistance and a variety of safety topics.

S.A.L.T. holds meetings on the third Wednesday of every month at 10 a.m. in the Sgt. DP Land Memorial FOP Lodge at 248 Castleberry Industrial Drive in Cumming.

For more information contact Deputy Jenny Belafi of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office at jlbelafi@forsythco.com.