Exploring Police Explorer Programs

By Bamberger, Lauren | Law & Order, June 2003 | Go to article overview

Exploring Police Explorer Programs


Bamberger, Lauren, Law & Order


In a society where violence, drugs and crime are a way of life for many kids, there is a flip side where others are starting to fight back. One program that helps youths fight back is the Police Explorer Program. This program is exactly as the name says: it is an opportunity for youths to explore police work. An outgrowth of the Boy Scouts of America and Learning For Life, the Explorer Program is open to boys and girls between the ages of 14 and 21.

While there will naturally be some differences in how each Explorer Program is designed, to suit the best purposes and interests of each department and city or town, they are generally structured the same. Their purpose is to instruct, help and assist those youths interested in police work and all areas of law enforcement.

The Menlo Park, CA, Police Department sponsors an active police cadet unit, organized through the Explorer program of the Pacific Skyline Council of Boy Scouts of America. They currently have 12 active youth members and six officer advisors. This particular program was implemented in 1969 with the help of several dedicated officers who fulfilled a need for many young people who were interested in law enforcement and wanted to learn more about it. The purpose was and is to educate young people about police work whether they want to be in law enforcement as a career or not.

Explorers in the Menlo Park program are just a few of the many explorer cadets in San Mateo County that attend the Peninsula Law Enforcement Explorer Academy, a miniature version of the real police academy that the officers attend. The academy is eight consecutive Sundays, and one Saturday, of day-long sessions where explorer cadets learn how to work together, learn what its like to go through a real police academy and receive vital training in all areas of law enforcement.

Just a few of the courses provided are: history of law enforcement, contemporary law enforcement, juvenile law and protection, criminal law, criminal investigation, narcotics, criminalistics and forensics, and communication. There are also hands-on courses and lifesaving courses such as: physical training, report writing, fire safety, rappelling, traffic control, First Aid, CPR, officer safety, search and rescue techniques and K-9 training.

In Portsmouth, RI, the Explorer Program currently consists of three girls and nine boys, all about 17 years old. Meeting every Thursday night, they start out with some military style drills for a warm up and learn drilling techniques that come in handy when they compete in National Explorer Competitions. A plaque hangs proudly on the wall from last summer's competition in Flagstaff, AZ, where the cadets took fourth place in the accident investigations category.

Next, they spend time around a large table reviewing and learning about police work, laws, rules and regulations. For the sake of the three new cadets they reviewed things like the differences between a felony and a misdemeanor, a burglary and a robbery, and much more. The cadets answer questions and are free to ask any and all questions they have. Each cadet had his own binder and notebook for taking notes and filing handouts on laws and codes.

The Portsmouth program works like many others, they have a main leader, in this case, Detective Dennis Canario, and another core instructor, Officer Scott Travers. Other officers in the department come in to teach in their areas of expertise, for example, Sgt. Colefield instructs them on accident investigations and procedures and Officer John Huppee works with them on firearms training.

Explorer Cadets' duties vary in each program but for the most part they perform a wide variety of community service and volunteer duties within the police department they are associated with. Many are able to serve as extra help for large gatherings like fairs and festivals, and also on traffic control details. They might also serve as additional manpower for events such as marching in a parade or ceremony. …

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