Police Explorer program offers hands-on law enforcement experience
WILLMAR -- This January, the Willmar Police Department will start its police Explorer program, which gives local young men and women the opportunity to experience the day-to-day activities of a police officer.
WILLMAR - This January, the Willmar Police Department will start its police Explorer program, which gives local young men and women the opportunity to experience the day-to-day activities of a police officer.
The program is open to people ages 14 to 21 and applications are being accepted.
“A lot of this program is just getting more young people involved with law enforcement,” Police Chief Jim Felt said. “It’s a great way to see what it’s all about.”
Burglaries, bomb threats, traffic accidents and arrests are all types of scenarios police officers deal with throughout their careers.
Police Chief Jim Felt said students in the Explorer program will learn about all aspects of law enforcement through lessons and mock scenarios every other week. Students in the Explorer program will perform tasks such as searching buildings and crime scenes, performing traffic stops, interviewing suspects and administering first aid.
Explorers will also get real-life experience by performing tasks such as event security. The group will also take field trips to places like state prisons.
“It’s got the potential for some real-world application, but we certainly wouldn’t put Explorers in a situation where they are in harm’s way,” Felt said.
The police Explorer program is part of the national Boy Scouts of America Career Exploring Program that aims to give young people the opportunity to discover different careers.
The Willmar Police Department received $500 from the Willmar Police and Peace Officers Association to buy student uniforms, training equipment and other-start up needs.
While the Explorer program will educate young people, Felt also said it will get police officers engaged with the community.
Detective Dustin Van der Hagen will be one of the program instructors and said he is eager to teach young people about his career.
“I’ve always had an interest in law enforcement,” Van der Hagen said. “I want to get someone else interested in law enforcement and give back.”
Felt also remembered being a young person exploring different career paths. After a ride-along in high school with a police officer, he said he knew he wanted to go into law enforcement.
“I did a ride-along once and after that I was hooked,” Felt said.
Willmar police officers will visit Willmar Senior High School on Tuesday with information about the Explorer program. Those interested can also contact Detective Van der Hagen at email@example.com or 320-214-6700 ext. 3228.\