Carson starts Police Explorer program
February 6, 2009
FORT CARSON, Colo.-Fort Carson youths have a new opportunity to explore a career in law enforcement and gain valuable leadership experience and skills along the way.
The Fort Carson Department of the Army civilian police, under the authority of the Provost Marshal's Office, has initiated a police Explorers group and is working to transform the group into an official post relatively soon.
The post is currently at just three members and, since its numbers are few, it has turned to teaming up with larger, established posts for training opportunities. One such training and mentoring opportunity occurred Jan. 27 as a group of 30 Colorado Springs Police Department Explorers joined the fledgling Fort Carson Explorers for a night filled with high-speed pursuit and more than a few incidents of crashed patrol cars. Events were confined, however, to the PMO's new driving simulator which is specially designed for learning patrol maneuvers.
The three-screen simulator also features a complete auto dashboard, driver's seat and pedals, and provides fairly realistic and instant feedback through various game-like, computer-generated scenarios.
Theresa Dixon, a Department of the Army civilian police officer on Fort Carson, said she expects the relationship with the CSPD Explorers post to be a successful, long-term partnership. She said that the Carson police Explorers program is an entirely revamped version of one that started about three years ago. Due to funding and staffing issues, in addition to normal permanent change of station moves, participation dropped to zero and the program was shut down. But a few months ago, Dixon said, the program was resurrected due to a perceived need to provide a hands-on learning and developmental outlet to Fort Carson youths.
"Explorers is a really important program," Dixon said. "It's a program that's actually sponsored through the Boy Scouts of America. They have a program called Learning for Life. We're in the process of getting our post number and turning in our final paperwork and that's going to make us an official post."
Dixon said that joining the national program will provide a lot of benefits to the Carson Explorers. The availability of scholarship money as well as insurance coverage are just two of the incentives for joining the national program.
"Membership in the national program also opens up a lot of training for the kids that they wouldn't necessarily have access to before," Dixon said. "They get to go to leadership conferences, go to national training conferences, and we can join other Explorer posts, which is what we've done with Colorado Springs Police Department Explorers post."
The Carson program, Dixon noted, will team up with the Colorado Springs post whenever possible to provide additional Explorer training opportunities.
"We have things that we can train them in like the driving simulator," Dixon said, adding that the CSPD Explorers, in turn, have training facilities that are not present on Fort Carson. "It becomes a very cooperative learning (experience). The Explorers from their post learn the military side of law enforcement and our Explorers learn the civilian side of law enforcement."
Youth Explorers, Dixon said, will really be able to help out the civilian police force on Fort Carson.
"They will provide extra eyes and ears for special events," she said, noting that the youth Explorers will always be accompanied by at least one Department of the Army civilian police officer.
"We now have three Explorers and we are going to limit our membership to about 20 students because I think that's about what our office can handle. We don't want to go past that number until we get regular funding since we're rebuilding (the program) from scratch."
In addition to adding members, the Carson post has a lot of other groundwork to do.
"We don't have uniforms for our Explorers yet," Dixon said, adding that funding for uniforms and gear is still being sought. "We do have some nylon web duty gear that we as DA police used to use that we can now use for the Explorers. There will be certain uniform items that they will be required to purchase on their own, like boots, but hopefully, if we get enough support in the Explorer program, we can get at least a pair of battle dress uniform pants and police uniform shirt so we can look really professional.
"We make sure that they all wear ballistic vests when they go on patrol with an officer. They are an extra set of eyes and ears while on a ride along. They are going to be functioning assistants for the law enforcement officer when they do a ride along. We prepare them for all sorts of situations. We put them through a lot of training and certifications to make sure they are safe and to ensure parents that their kids are safe."
The Fort Carson Police Explorers program is open to Fort Carson community youths age 14- 20. All Explorers will have to pass an Explorers academy and attend regular meetings to participate and remain in the program. The Explorer academy is scheduled for June.