At a time when people across the country are calling to defund the police, or outright abolish them, convincing others to make a career in law enforcement could be a tough sell.
For Cameron Mosher, however, the decision to put on the badge for a living is an easy one.
“For me, it’s always been an urge to serve my community,” he said.
Mosher is training to be a deputy sheriff at the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy in Southern California.
“I want to try to be that positive change in law enforcement to try to help and move forward with this career,” he said.
Moving forward and maintaining order as the country deals with a pandemic and social unrest.
“I have a brother in St. Louis, Missouri, not too far from Ferguson, and we’ve had some interesting debates over the last five or so years,” said Lt. Joses Walehwa, who is helping train a new group of recruits at the Orange County Sheriff’s Regional Training Academy.
Walehwa says his team is preparing the next generation of law enforcement officer for much more than traffic stops and arrests.
“As an African American, or really any minority group here in America, has a unique perspective when it comes to just their lived experience growing up,” he said. “I think for me, the biggest impact is bridging the gap. You know, bridging this issue of us versus them.”
Walehwa says another huge impact when it comes to recruiting is the economy.
“When the economy starts to dip, you see that people start to look for stable jobs,” he said. “Law enforcement and public sector and jobs like ours become a little bit more appealing because people see the stability of the job.”
A job where despite a pension and a mean annual wage of more $67,600 (Bureau of Labor Statistics), there’s still a major need for more sheriff’s deputies across the country.
A recent report from the Police Executive Research Forum shows 36% of respondents said the number of applicants at their agency has “decreased significantly.”
For recruits like Mosher, however, working in law enforcement means much more than money. It’s about building trust in his community while also addressing new challenges and raising the standards of law enforcement officers.
“We see definitely a lot of people who are not necessarily supportive of law enforcement right now,” he said. “But in the end, that’s totally OK, because we’re here to support everyone. We’re going to protect everyone equally.”