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

The sign in front of the Homer Electric Association building in Kenai, Alaska, as seen on April 1, 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
HEA rates to increase Jan. 1

The cooperative’s last rate increase took effect in April 2020

AP Photo/Erin Hooley
An eight-week-old sea otter rescued from Seldovia, Alaska, peaks out of his enclosure at Shedd Aquarium Wednesday, Dec. 6 in Chicago. The otter was found alone and malnourished and was taken to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward which contacted Shedd, and the Chicago aquarium was able to take the otter in. He will remain quarantined for a few months while he learns to groom and eat solid foods before being introduced to Shedd’s five other sea otters.
Seldovia sea otter pup has a new home at Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium

The northern sea otter was found alone and malnourished and taken to the Alaska SeaLife Center in Seward

Students from Nikiski Middle/High School and Kenai Middle School join Jesse Bjorkman, Ken Felchle and volunteers from the Kenai Peninsula Chapter of Safari Club International on an educational moose hunt in Nikiski, Alaska, on Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (Photo provided by Jesse Bjorkman)
Lessons in big game hunting

Students learn to ethically and responsibly harvest a moose and process its meat for food

Cook Inletkeeper Energy Policy Analyst Ben Boettger presents information about retrofitting homes to be more energy efficient at the Cook Inletkeeper Community Action Studio on Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Inletkeeper turns focus to energy for next community climate solution

The meeting marked the official kickoff of Cook Inletkeeper’s fourth installment in its local solution series

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Woman arrested after allegedly shooting neighbor’s house

The woman had been trying to break up a dog fight, troopers said

A pie chart shows Kenai Peninsula Borough School District expenditures by object for the current fiscal year. (Chart via KPBSD)
Explanation of how KPBSD organizes funds caps ‘Budget 101’ series

Finance Director Elizabeth Hayes delivered the presentation to school board members during a Monday work session

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, answers questions from constituents during a legislative update at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Ruffridge predicts school funding, energy security will be top issues in Juneau next session

Ruffridge has represented District 7, which includes Kenai and Soldotna, in the Alaska House of Representatives since October 2022

Members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District Board of Education meet on Monday, Dec. 4, 2023, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
New school board group will study 4-day school week

The group will meet regularly until next July, when committee members will present their findings to the full board

Members of the Kenai/Soldotna Fish and Game Advisory Committee raise hands to vote in favor of a proposal during a meeting at Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association in Kenai, Alaska, on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Advisory committee supports protections for lake trout and king salmon

Advisory committee recommendations will be weighed by the State Board of Fisheries alongside public testimony as they deliberate on each proposal

Most Read