The Boy Scouts of America Law Enforcement Career Exploring Program is often the first look teenagers get into a career in law enforcement, and Lawrence Police Dept. recently held a swearing-in ceremony for 12 new explorers in the Lawrence Police Explorer Post #160, bumping the post up to the largest in the state.
According to the Boy Scouts of America, LPD’s Explorer Post also is the longest running in the state, and the new explorers make 33 individuals who have been involved in the program.
Explorers assist LPD in parades and traffic control, but LPD Chief David Hofmann said the program digs even further. Explorers learn firearms safety, ride along with LPD officers and can even choose to be exposed to a Taser or chemical spray.
“All this stuff, it’s not just kids putting on neon vests to direct traffic at a Fourth of July parade,” said Hofmann, who became chief in 2016. “They really get an exposure to most aspects of the career.”
Those ages 14-21 can participate. Explorers must maintain a grade point average of 2.0, but Hofmann said many excel with a 3.0 or higher. Although the program is under the Boy Scouts of America umbrella, males and females, regardless of Scout involvement, can participate.
“Many of our current, full-time Lawrence Police Officers started their careers as LPD Explorers,” Hofmann said during the swearing-in ceremony Dec. 6. “The unit offers young adults a personal awareness of the criminal justice system through training, practical experiences, competition and many other activities. Additionally, the Explorer Unit promotes personal growth through character and leadership development, respect for the rule of law, physical fitness, good citizenship and patriotism.”
LPD Officer Brian Sharp was a part of Lawrence’s explorer program at age 14, then moved through the ranks, joining the department as a reserve officer in 2000 and a full-time merited officer in 2005. Sharp gives credit to the explorer program for exposing him to the department.
“As an explorer, you start building relationships with some of the officers,” Sharp said. “You make a lot of relationships with the administrative staff. As you’re progressing through this program, they’re seeing how you’re growing up, how you’re learning, how you’re dealing with the public while you’re assisting in traffic. They watch you grow and see how you’re progressing.”
“Our explorers get many opportunities to experience new things and see new places and thrive in an environment where they learn self-discipline, self-worth and leadership, and develop a strong work ethic,” Hofmann said. “Additionally, it is my hope that we are developing a pool of strong individuals who will be eligible to, and want to, join the ranks of Lawrence Police Dept. officers in future years.”
Sharp said the program isn’t to scare kids straight, rather a true eye-opening experience.
“It’s for people who are interested in law enforcement and curious,” Sharp said. “It’s about team building. You learn leadership because there (are) ranks within the explorers that mirror the police department. The ranks in the program build those leadership skills and so forth.”
For more, visit the Lawrence Police Explorers Facebook page.
LAWRENCE POLICE EXPLORER POST #160
For: Ages 14-21 interested in exploring a career in law enforcement
Location: 9001 E. 59th St., Lawrence
Explorer opportunities in the community: Lawrence Fourth of July parade and fireworks celebration, Community Public Safety Day, Crime Stoppers Community Shred and Electronics Recycling Day events and attending the Indiana Law Enforcement Explorer Academy
More: Visit exploring.org, or call Lawrence Police Explorer Post #160 at 317-408-2000.