Explorers program offers young adults chance to learn law enforcement
Last updated 11/6/2020 at 5:29pm
PASCO – Learning to be a police officer can be a lot of fun.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office offers the Explorers training program for kids 14 and up to learn about roles in law enforcement.
"It gives them a firsthand view of what law enforcement does," said Deputy Jacob Safford.
Safford and Deputy Scott Wright volunteer their time to run the program that is part of Boy Scouts of America and part Washington Law Enforcement Exploring Advisors (WLEA). The local program is run through the sheriff's office.
Explorers are young adults between the ages of 14 and 21. They learn standard police work from building searches to case law through academies, classes, and ride-alongs with deputies. The program teaches all aspects of law enforcement including learning about the civil service exams.
"We want them to learn about law enforcement opportunities," said Safford. "We want these young adults to learn leadership skills that will help them in their adult life."
Explorers can attend law enforcement academies to learn everything from drug enforcement to investigations. If they receive academy training, for about two years, then they can attend the WLEA Academy, where explorers receive further instruction through role-playing scenarios.
"The young adults that go through the academy enjoy it and get a lot out of it," Safford said.
To be an Explorer, the young adults are automatically part of Boy Scouts for insurance but the rest of the costs are paid for by the program, such as membership dues. The first year requires about a $25 fee to the Boy Scouts and after that, the program pays for them. There is help available for low-income candidates.
A background check is required because Explorers see sensitive materials and have access to secured areas in the sheriff's office.
Being an Explorer doesn't mean they become a police officer when they are done, but the program offers opportunities for them to apply for scholarships and prepares them to seek employment in law enforcement.
Safford said he knows the benefits of being an Explorer. He started in 2003 as an Explorer and became a reserve deputy in 20011. Safford was hired as a full-time deputy in 2016.
"It's a great program and I am happy our agency has it," he said.