By Michelle Chance
“Bang! Bang! Bang!” yelled an MPD Explorer inside a classroom at Maricopa High School. He’s holding a yellow pistol and ordering his suspect to put his hands in the air.
This is only training, of course, and the guns these teens practice with are not real.
However, the tactical exercises the MPD Explorer Post participates in during its weekly meetings can lead to legitimate careers in the future.
“Most of our kids that have gone through the program have either gone on into law enforcement careers or in the military,” said the Post’s Advisor, Officer Christopher Evans.
The Explorers’ student leader hopes to do exactly that.
Commander Ethan Griffin, a junior, plans to take his experience with the post and apply it to a future in the Marine Corps, and later as a police officer.
During meetings, Evans lectures his students on the procedures of law enforcement, including how to communicate effectively as an officer.
It’s a lesson the soft-spoken Jacelyn Rodriguez has used to find her voice.
“I’m not a very social person and I’m pretty quiet,” Rodriguez said. “Police officers talk to everyone, every day. That’s a big component of their job.”
Another big part of law enforcement’s duties is tactical training for emergency situations.
In January, The post competed in a tactical competition and is training to do more in the future. Until then, they continue running drills, conducting building searches and a completing mock officer-down rescues.
In addition to the drills and lectures, a physical element is also included in the meetings. Explorers run the track at MHS, with each student competing against themselves to better his or her own time.
The post of about 17 explorers must also keep their grades above a c-average to participate.
Evans called it “structured discipline” and said it is shaping these students to be “the best of the best.”
“This is beneficial for the community in that we are training the youth of today to be the leaders of tomorrow,” Evans said.
The MPD Explorers meet every Tuesday night at Maricopa High School and is open to young adults community-wide. Evans said the meetings will continue during the summer break at MHS.
For more information on the program, contact Officer Chris Evans at 520-450-8875.