High School Students Can Learn What It’s Like to be in Law Enforcement

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Provided by Prince William County

SWAT team member Master Police Officer Jason Kohl, right, talks to Prince William Police Explorers about the SWAT team’s weapons at the Prince William County Police Department’s Western District Station.

SWAT team member Master Police Officer Jason Kohl, right, talks to Prince William Police Explorers about the SWAT team’s weapons at the Prince William County Police Department’s Western District Station.

High school students who think law enforcement might be a good career choice can get the chance to find out through the Prince William County Police Department’s Explorers Program.

First Sgt. Dave Smith, with the department’s School Resource Officer Unit, said that those in the program get the chance to work mock crime and accident scenes, hone interviewing skills, learn patrol and arrest procedures, see how traffic stops are conducted, learn firearms safety, tour the Public Safety Communications Center, ride along with patrol officers and attend an abbreviated academy modeled after the police department’s recruit academy.

“Fostering a relationship with the juvenile population is an important thing for the department, as is cultivating the next generation — kind of getting kids that are interested in law enforcement a taste of what we do,” Smith said. “A lot of these kids have the desire to see if law enforcement is something they want to get into as they grow into an adult. It really gives them that first-hand experience. It gives them insight into how our department works – how law enforcement as a whole works – and really lets them know if this is something they want to do.”

The program, which is set up in affiliation with the Boy Scouts of America, accepts students ages 14-18 with good grades and no criminal history who are drug, alcohol and tobacco free. “We take kids starting at the age of 14. They have to be in the ninth grade. They have to have a 2.0 GPA or better. We always look at that, and make sure they’re maintaining their grades.”

Applications are accepted throughout the year, Smith said. PWL “We’re constantly getting new applications. In that application process, we do background checks to make sure they meet all the criteria, that they don’t have a criminal record that would preclude them from being part of the program.”

Joanne Fearnow’s son, Cassin, is in the Explorers program; and she said she believes he gains a sense of community by being involved. She said she’s glad to see him following in a family tradition. Cassin’s father was a Metro Transit Police officer, and Fearnow worked as an emergency dispatcher.

Abigail Holbrook, 18, wants to go to Liberty University to get a degree in criminal psychology. She said she enjoys meeting Prince William County police officers, the camaraderie and working in the community. “I like the learning experience, having an opportunity to meet people who are already officers and get their take on what life is like as a police officer and have their wisdom on things,” the Osbourn Park High School student said. “I want to join the K-9 unit after being a patrol for a while.”

For more information about the Explorers program, visit www.pwcgov.org/police or call 703-792-5590. Students may also talk to their School Resource Officer about the program.

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