Career exploration: Police youth group has sights on national conference

With a little help from the community, a group of local youth are hoping to take the next step toward careers in law enforcement.

The Soldotna Police Explorer Post 426 will host a spaghetti fundraiser and silent auction this Saturday. Funds raised at the event will help offset the cost of students’ attendance at the 2018 National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference at Purdue University in Indiana.

The conference gathers members the Explorer Club program — a Boy Scout-affiliated program that provides hands-on career education for youth — to train and compete in a variety of law enforcement-related skills. Founded two years ago, the Soldotna Police Explorer Post 426 currently has eight members, and about 25 students have gone through the program, Officer Tobin Brennan, lead advisor for Post 426, said.

Students enrolled in the program have gotten lessons in various aspects of the criminal justice system, including the judiciary, corrections and law enforcement, and have had hands-on experience with local police, State Troopers and the FBI.

Brennan said the training has helped motivate some of the students to take the possibility of a career in law enforcement seriously.

“We had a kid who came in and had no idea what he was going to do,” Brennan said.

The student began doing ride-alongs through the program and eventually got a summer job with the Kenai police, Brennan said.

“When he turns 21, he wants to go to the Academy.”

Kenai Central High School student Zachary Stockton, 16, has been involved with the Explorer program for the last two years.

“I always was interested in law enforcement,” he said. “I wanted to learn how to make a positive impact in the community.”

During his time with the Explorers, Stockton has gotten to do it all — take ride-alongs, observe traffic stops, learn how to recognize potential DUIs, train in building searches, practice responding to active shooter scenarios and even work with a canine unit.

As he’s gained valuable skills, Stockton has also expanded his knowledge of the day-to-day reality of being a law enforcement official.

“It shows you real law enforcement, not just what was shown on TV,” Stockton said.

For one thing, there’s a lot more paperwork, he said.

It has also made him aware of the challenges law enforcement officials face every day, as they make split-second decisions and grapple with the effects of their actions.

“They teach us the psychological effects of it,” he said. “It’s a lot to deal with.”

The 2018 conference will offer Explorers the opportunity meet with other groups from across the U.S. and compete in areas like domestic violence response, traffic stops, building searches, interrogation and interviewing.

Stockton said he is looking forward to learning more about different state, local and federal agencies in order to better understand what career path he wants to take.

“It will open our eyes more to see what kind of department we want to work for,” he said.

More in News

Alaska Rep. David Eastman, a Republican from Wasilla, sits at his desk on the Alaska House floor in Juneau, Alaska, on March 5, 2020. Alaska lawmakers are discussing whether to sanction Eastman who is also a member of the Oath Keepers far-right paramilitary organization according to the Anchorage Daily News. Eastman, who is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, confirmed with the Associated Press, Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, that he joined the Oath Keepers a little over 12 years ago, “along with 38,000 others who have committed to honoring oaths we have taken.” (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer, File)
State lawmaker could be sanctioned over Oath Keeper ties

Eastman was identified as a “life member” of the Oath Keepers last year

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
As cases surge, public health officials contemplate how to live with virus

Contact tracing and data collection will have to be reworked if COVID is here to stay

Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone can be seen on this map provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. (Image via fisheries.noaa.gov)
Soldotna approves filing of EEZ lawsuit brief

The lawsuit seeks to reopen commercial salmon fishing in the Upper Cook Inlet Exclusive Economic Zone

University of Alaska Interim President Pat Pitney, bottom left, spoke to UA students in a virtual forum on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, and was joined by several UA administrators including UA Southeast President Karen Carey, bottom left, and UA Anchorage Vice Chancellor Bruce Schultz, top left. At top right, an American Sign Language professional provides translation services. (Screenshot)
UA President: University has turned a corner on funding

System sees modest increase in budget for first time in years

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer; Senate President Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna; Sen. Gary Stevens, R-Kodiak and Sen. Click Bishop, R-Fairbanks, spoke to reporters Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022, immediately following Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s State of the State address. Members of the Senate Republican leadership said they appreciated the governor’s optimism, and hoped it signaled a better relationship between the administration and the Legislature. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Lawmakers welcome tone change in governor’s address

With caveats on financials, legislators optimistic about working together

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
COVID deaths, hospitalizations climb statewide

The total number of statewide COVID deaths is nearly equivalent to the population of Funny River.

A fisher holds a reel on the Kenai River near Soldotna on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Restrictions on sport fishing announced

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced summer sport fishing regulations Wednesday

Community agencies administer social services to those in need during the Project Homeless Connect event Soldotna Regional Sports Complex in Soldotna on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘It’s nice to be able to help folks’

Project Homeless Connect offers services, supplies to those experiencing housing instability

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce attends the March 2, 2021, borough assembly meeting at the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers at the Borough Administration Building in Soldotna, Alaska. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Former talk-show host to manage Pierce gubernatorial campaign

Jake Thompson is a former host of KSRM’s Tall, Dark and Handsome Show and Sound-off talk-show

Most Read