About a year ago, the sheriff's office was ready to abandon a program that gave high school students in Aiken a taste of what it would be like to work in law enforcement.
Officials said no one volunteered to run Cadet Corps, a program that let teenagers participate in ride-alongs and help in the office.
Then reserve deputy Cindy Siegler offered her services.
But not anymore.
Ms. Siegler has left for another job, and the program has been terminated, effective immediately, said Lt. Michael Frank, the Aiken County Sheriff's office spokesman.
He said the 15 to 20 cadets active in the program should receive letters soon informing them it has been eliminated.
"The decision was made on two factors: liability of having the young people in the law enforcement environment and lack of staffing to supervise them," Lt. Frank said.
Ms. Siegler said she and the cadets are disappointed at the decision, but they understand.
"We knew there had to be a real good reason behind it, or they wouldn't have closed it down," she said.
The program has been in existence for about 10 years, although the name has changed.
It morphed from an Explorers program operated in connection with the Boy Scouts of America into the Cadet Corps after the sheriff's office decided to disassociate itself with the Scouts organization, Lt. Frank said.
Under the Cadet Corps program, cadets could ride along with officers, observe court proceedings, help with administrative duties and attend public functions.
The cadets were required to put in a minimum of six hours a month, although Ms. Siegler said that some would work 20 to 30 hours a month.
She said she knows that several of the cadets likely will end up in law enforcement, proving the program works.
"I hope eventually it'll get started back because it had a lot of good kids," she said.
The sheriff's office won't be saving any money by cutting the Cadet Corps. The program cost "little or nothing, because whatever funding the young people received was because of their fundraisers," Lt. Frank said.
Reach Sandi Martin at (803) 648-1395, ext. 111, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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