Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Frontier Police Offer Law Enforcement Explorer Post to Scouts

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

New Frontier Police Offer Law Enforcement Explorer Post to Scouts

Article excerpt

Don't look for these Boy Scouts to spend a lot of time toasting marshmallows or singing around the campfire.

But they will hike through some rugged terrain. And they'll explore some new paths - career paths, that is.

They'll be part of the Okaw Valley Council's newest scouting adventure: a Law Enforcement Explorer Post sponsored by the East St. Louis Police Department. The first meeting of the police Explorers is planned for this summer. Eventually, the police intend to sponsor posts all over the city.

The Police Department - and some friends - hope the police Explorer posts will keep kids out of gangs and off the streets. The Scouts will don police-style uniforms and badges, take part in community projects and practice becoming leaders and role models.

Police Chief Isadore Chambers says it's no coincidence that violent street crime is committed mostly by young people aged 14 to 21 - and those are the same ages targeted for the new Scout post.

Hopefully, "this is a solution to street gang activity," Chambers said.

"Instead of us constantly making arrests and prosecuting and incarcerating, we're committed to addressing the problems that give rise to street gangs," Chambers said. "Street gangs meet the needs of youth.

"They provide a sense of identity, a feeling of belonging, a sense of brotherhood. This youth program can fulfill all of these needs gangs are fulfilling."

The scouts will try their hands at radio procedures and report writing, crime prevention and crowd traffic control. They'll learn to fingerprint, investigate accidents, conduct arrests and searches, administer first aid and be prepared in disasters.

They'll also fan out into the neighborhoods and help set up neighborhood watch groups. They'll go door-to-door, pass out literature and surveys, and help residents make their own homes safer. To reduce violence among fellow teens, the Scouts will be trained in conflict resolution.

Chambers said that when he was growing up in East St. Louis, ". . . we had all kinds of facilities we could go to in summertime or when school was out. We don't have a lot of those now, and we're trying to come up with something to decrease the free time youths have. …

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