Explorers learning ropes at Sweet Home Police Department

Six high school students are serving as Sweet Home Police Department Explorers, and the department is accepting applications for additional Explorers.

The department operates the program to train young people for a future in law enforcement, to stimulate interest in law enforcement practices and the code of ethics, self-confidence and responsibility.

The program helps provide a positive relationship between police and the youth of the community, according to the department’s program goals. It also provides youth services to the community, and the youth assist the department by performing non-hazardous functions, including prevention and deterrence of crime, recovery and return of stolen property, directing traffic and other general service. according to the department policy manual.

“We have regular training meetings every other week,” said Officer Chris Wingo, program adviser. “Of course, being police Explorers, they’re exploring law enforcement.”

That means they explore more than police work, he said. They receive a well-rounded education in criminal justice.

The Explorers help with parades, traffic control and security at the Oregon Jamboree, he said. They also must spend 10 hours a month involved in some aspect of criminal justice, from riding along with police officers to working with dispatchers and viewing court proceedings.

“It teaches the kids about law enforcement, mainly focused toward the kids who want to pursue a career in this line of work,” Wingo said. “Also for us officers, it exposes us to kids who are not necessarily troubled teens. Most of the kids we deal with in our careers are in trouble or causing trouble.”

The program can help the Explorers when they apply for jobs in law enforcement, Wingo said. It gives the officers the chance to get to know them, and the youths can get to know the department.

The program is open to people ages 14 to 20 who have completed the eighth grade, he said. Applicants must pass a police background check and be enrolled in school.

“The scholastic requirement is a requirement that is put on us by Living for Life,” Wingo said. Living for Life is a program of the Boy Scouts of America.

The department is authorized to have up to 12 Explorers, Wingo said, but he hasn’t decided how many he is going include in the current program.

“It’s interesting,” Explorer Kevin McGuyre said. “I think pretty much all of us are planning on being police officers.”

Last week, the Explorers learned about high-risk handcuffing and the department’s use of force policy, Explorer Leah Dauley said.

“It’s just a great opportunity to learn about the force,” she said.

Explorer Terry Northrup said he’s enjoyed the ride-alongs.

“It’s been fun going on patrols with the officers,” he said.

The Explorers include Dauley, Northrup, McGuyre, Rob Callagan, Logan Clark and Trevur Byers. Officer Wingo is assisted by Officer Ryan Paul.

For more information about the Explorers Program, call 367-5181. Applications are available at the Sweet Home Police Department, 1950 Main St.