DENTON, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Facing a staffing shortage, one North Texas sheriff’s office is hoping to identify young people in the community to join its ranks.

Thursday, the Denton County Sheriff’s Office launched its Explorer Program, opening doors to teenagers who could one day be deputies.

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Denton County Sheriff’s Explorers (CBS11)

Program applicants had an up close look at a SWAT vehicle. They also had a chance to interact with a narcotics police canine.

If the teens successfully pass a background check and are chosen, they will also get to see crime scenes, traffic stops and watch an investigation, saidDenton County Sheriff’s Office Spokesman, Captain Orlando Hinojosa.

“If they get to taste what it’s like to become a law enforcement officer, that is what we want to do,” said Hinojosa. “We still don’t want to pick anybody. We want the best of the best to be a part of our program, and our long term goal is for the kids to become employed through the sheriff’s office.

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The Denton County Sheriff’s Office is understaffed by about 9 percent. Hinojosa says they have plenty of applicants, but most aren’t qualified. The job has also become more dangerous.

“Right now is not a time to be in law enforcement because people are shooting at us just because the uniform we wear or the badge we wear,” Hinojosa said.

Shannon Gregory hopes his son can join the program and says the job dangers are on the back of his mind.

“I know it comes with the job, and it’s an important thing that we need,” Gregory said. “For kids who want to get into that, it’s a great career to go into.”

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Anyone interested in the Explorer Program is asked to contact the Denton County Sheriff’s Office.