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Youth aged 16 to 24 are invited to pursue career opportunities with Pima County law enforcement departments during the Annual Youth Justice Careers Expo, organized by the Pima County Workforce Investment Board Youth Council, on Feb. 13. 

Students, or anyone seeking possible career paths in law enforcement, will rotate between stations hosted by departments from the Tucson Police Department and other representatives from justice-related jobs within Pima County at TPD’s westside location on Miracle Mile.

Vaughn Croft, chair of the Youth Council and the Fred G. Acosta Job Corp Center Business Community Liaison, is heading the event.

“The people who come to these events are very inquisitive, very interested, very enthusiastic,” Croft said. “Parents come up to me tell me ‘Oh my gosh, this was so good;’ they really are very thankful they have the opportunity to come to this kind of thing.”

Volunteers kick-started the event three years ago, and continue to organize it today. 

“There’s really not much expense in this because all of us putting this together are volunteers,” Croft said. “The Tucson Police Department is the host site, and we’ve advertised this expo across Pima County in public, private and charter school districts – as well as to those we can reach who are not in school, but in some kind of job program or earning their GED.”

Nathan Bacal, Program and Elections Manager for the Pima County School Superintendents Office, volunteers to help guide students through various stations.

“It’s designed to give high school students and job corp students a taste of what a career in law enforcement would be,” Bacal said. “That could be SWAT team, that could be regular police, that could be FBI.”

According to Bacal, the expo begins with an introduction, usually by a law enforcement officer, about their experiences on the job. Students are then split up into groups that rotate between breakout sessions and tours set up by the different departments within the Tucson Police Department and Pima County, including SWAT, forensic science and canine units.

Both Croft and Bacal said the event is good for any young person open to exploring different career fields, but is most beneficial to those looking into entering the workforce and who have a strong interest in law enforcement.

“I think the fact this event is free to the students is huge,” Bacal said. “The opportunity that they have to speak to local law enforcement and really gauge whether this is a career they want to go into could be so impactful.”

The Youth Justice Careers Expo will run from 12:30 to 4 p.m. at the Tucson Police Department Westside Station, 1310 W Miracle Mile Feb. 13. Contact Linda Reyes at Tucson Youth Development at 623-5843; email at registration@tucsonyouth.org. or check the Tucson Youth Development Facebook page for more information.

Ian Green is a University of Arizona journalism student and a Tucson Local Media intern.

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