Video: Program offers a taste of police work
WILLMAR -- During the past several months that the Willmar Police Explorer program has been underway, participants have experienced various aspects of law enforcement life through a variety of hands-on scenarios.
WILLMAR - During the past several months that the Willmar Police Explorer program has been underway, participants have experienced various aspects of law enforcement life through a variety of hands-on scenarios.
Willmar Police Department Sergeant Michael Jahnke leads the Police Explorer program.
He advises the group of more than a dozen young adults aged 14 to 20 who are interested in law enforcement careers.
Jahnke said hands-on experiences are a vital part of the Police Explorer Program. During the group’s meeting last week, Police Explorers conducted numerous traffic stops and issued “tickets” or “warnings” to “offenders” for committing minor traffic violations.
“You do (the activities) over and over again. That’s how you develop habits that keep you safe,” Jahnke said.
The Police Explorer Program is part of the national Boy Scouts of America Career Exploring Program, which gives young adults exposure to certain careers.
Besides exposing participants to new experiences, Jahnke said the program also provides an open line of communication between the Willmar Police Department and the public.
Ember Veldkamp serves as a lieutenant for the Willmar Police Explorers, studies law enforcement and works as a community service officer for the Willmar Police Department. She said she became interested in a law enforcement career because her father is a paramedic.
“My dad’s a paramedic. I want to make a difference too,” Veldkamp said.
Joe Schaefbauer, captain of the Police Explorer group, said the program has “been a great stepping stone” to develop his interest in a law enforcement career. Brianna Norby, also a member of the Police Explorer program and a senior at DREAM Technical Academy, has been empowered by the program for other reasons.
Norby said she joined the Police Explorer group to learn self-defense skills. She plans to travel extensively in the future and said she wants to protect herself and others.
Jahnke said the Police Explorers are currently learning basic activities and will continue to build on their skills.
“Once the basics become second nature, we will move to more advanced levels,” Jahnke said.
The group also has been involved in some community outreach opportunities, having performed crowd control for the recent Willmar Fests activities.
Willmar Police Chief Jim Felt said the Police Explorers might perform some duties for the Kandiyohi County Fair as well.
“We’re developing as we go,” Felt said.
The Willmar Police Explorers group is currently taking applications. Those interested in more information can contact Officer Dustin Van Der Hagen at 320-214-6700, ext. 3228.
The program also seeks donations. Checks may be directed to the City of Willmar Police Explorers and mailed to 2201 32rd Street Northeast, Suite 102. Members of the Police Explorer program will also be hosting a fundraiser from 5-9 p.m. July 27 at Pizza Ranch in Willmar, 1612 Lakeland Drive Southeast.
Police Explorer program offers hands-on law enforcement experience