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Folsom police seek to groom future officers

By: Laura Newell, Telegraph staff writer
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FOLSOM CA - The Law Enforcement Explorer program might be a good choice for teens looks for career options. The program is geared to high school and college students ages 14 to 21. Students must be enrolled in the Folsom Cordova School District or any of the surrounding colleges. College students must be enrolled in criminal justice or have an interest in law enforcement. ?The program is set up to teach students about the job,? said Folsom Police Officer Mike Griffin, senior adviser and coordinator for the Explorer program. ?We teach them everything we know about being an officer.? Exploring is a ?Learning for Life? career education program for students to gain life experiences to help them mature and prepare for a career. The Folsom Police Department Law Enforcement Explorer program is a year-long program held in both a classroom and hands-on setting. Students are in a classroom Thursday nights and after adequate training, they can attend police ride-alongs and patrol with a mentoring officer. Participants must be a U.S. citizen, be 14 and have completed the eighth grade, have not turned 21, maintain at least a 2.5 grade point average, complete the first year basic training program, attend group meetings and adhere to the group's code of conduct and general orders. Annual dues of $15 will be collected each year following the completion of the first year. Uniform fees will also apply. ?This program is great for kids who want to go into law enforcement as well as the military,? Griffin said. ?There are some restrictions for students under the age of 18, but they do get taught everything in the classroom. Students also learn hands on how to shoot on the range, action scene investigation and crime scene investigation. Everything we are taught, they are taught.? Griffin said because the age requirement ends at 21, they want to create a cadet program for the students long-term. He said the ultimate goal is to train the students and have them eventually join the Folsom Police Department or law enforcement in the region. ?It?s a great staple for future police officers in Folsom and surrounding departments,? he said. He said the students are not the only ones benefiting from the explorer program. ?We will have additional eyes and ears while we take an explorer on a ride along,? Griffin said. ?This is beneficial to the officer, and to the department. We will also have explorers at events helping with parking control. Explorers will also help at DUI checkpoints to fill out minor forms.? Still he said the most important knowledge the students will gain from the program is real life experience with a mentoring officer. ?Our explorers are never out there alone, they are always with a chaperon officer,? he said. ?We will keep these kids safe and connected with the department. This is a learning environment for the students. We keep them protected and safe.? He also said the students will be fully trained in procedures, know how to use a radio and understand how to handle a dangerous situation. For more information, visit exploring.learningforlife.org or call Griffin at (916) 930-1082.