Ambitious youth who aspire to have a future in police work have the opportunity to kick-start their endeavors through the Police Explorers program.
Police Explorers is a career-oriented program that gives young adults the opportunity to explore a career in law enforcement by working with local law enforcement agencies. Founded on July 12, 1973, it is one of the Exploring programs from Learning for Life, a non-scouting subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America. The program is generally available to qualified young adults who graduated eighth grade and are ages 14 through 20-and-a-half.
Gonzales Police Department Investigator Jason Montoya and Sgt. Dewey Sumner teach our local Explorers program, utilizing their experience in order to give the aspiring officers the tools they need to succeed in the future.
The new program started at the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, with Officer Matt Camarillo initially heading it. Montoya took over this year and worked extensively on developing its structure.
“To enter the program, students must have completed the eighth grade and be between the ages of 14 and 20-and-a-half,” Montoya explained. “You fill out an application and file it with the police department. Students cannot have had any negative contact with law enforcement in the past, have passing grades and no disciplinary issues.”
Police Explorers offers weekly administrative and training, patrol “ride-alongs,” community service, tactical training, honor guards and search and rescue. It additionally covers radio procedure (how to properly use police radios), arrests and use of force, traffic stops, building searches and crime scene investigations. Programs also cover things like crisis and hostage negotiations, report writing, domestic crises and emergency first aid/officer down.
“It’s a pretty disciplined program,” Montoya said. “If anyone is below passing they are dismissed from the program. If they miss more than three meetings they will also be dismissed. “
Montoya said that after their training aspiring officers can work in a correctional-type of field. But for now, it’s all about hitting the books.
“Here students are prepared for the challenges of the police academy, including the U.S. Constitution, penal code, code of criminal procedure, traffic code.
“You name it — they learn it here,” Montoya said.
Explorers also do practical drills, learning things like assault, burglaries, thefts and criminal mischief.
Classes are held at 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday at Revival Fitness, where students do an hour of class time, then an hour of physical conditioning.
How does this prepare them for success in law enforcement? Montoya reiterates that it educates them, and teaches them the current laws, as well as getting a head start on the material they will cover when they go to the police academy.
“Also we have a ride-out program, where they get to ride along with a patrolling officer,” Montoya said. “They get to go and respond to calls, get some hands-on experience. If they start out at 14 years old and take it all the way to 20-and-a-half, they get a really good start at learning the elements of the law.”
Explorers eventually become certified in first aid and CPR, making them able to be more diversified in the field.
“They also get to direct traffic during Halloween,” Montoya said. “And then during the Summer Concert Series they’ll foot patrol.
“Above all, explorers are taught that as law enforcement officers we are public servants that serve and protect our communities,” he added. “The discipline and structure of the program I believe develops respectful young men and women.”
Cutline: Former Explorer Bianca Moreno (No longer in program), Lizandro Reyes, Bobby White, Yoselin Gutierrez, Travis Decker, Jose Lerma, (up front) Michael Sirildo and Investigator Jason A. Montoya
Photo credit: Erik McCowan/Gonzales Inquirer