For high school students, being a part of a team can really make a difference in kids’ successes, and Hamilton High School’s Anthony Campo is among several who chose to join a team to gain an opportunity.
Campo, 17, is a member of the Mesa Police Department Explorer Post, a youth program that teaches students between ages 14-18 the dynamics and real-world skills it takes to be a police officer.
“I think it’s a wonderful program for anyone interested in law enforcement or military,” Campo said. “It’s a really good way to make contacts within the police department.”
The Mesa PD Explorer Post program is designed to give students an opportunity to learn more about what it takes to work in the law enforcement industry by introducing concepts such as fitness, timeliness, respect, and authority as well as other hands on training police academy cadets would receive during their training.
“It’s very much like a military ROTC program,” said detective Shane Anderson, head of the Mesa PD Explorer Post.
Teaching students different skills and opening their eyes to the vast world of law enforcement while also teaching them to be good citizens is the ultimate goal for Anderson.
“I try give them a broader perspective of law enforcement that way they’ll have more choices after the program. Whether they want to join a police force or go federal, it doesn’t really matter because in the end we’re all helping each other,” Anderson said.
Campo has been participating in the Explorer Post for more than a year, and learned he has a passion for his fitness as well as a career in law enforcement.
Campo said he learned about the program from a friend at his church. Campo was originally looking for an internship opportunity while in high school, and was excited to learn that he could join the explorers.
Not only do the explorers get hands on training, they also have chances to compete in statewide explorer competitions that focus on team oriented challenges designed around law enforcement scenarios.
According to Anderson and Officer Butler, another officer involved with the explorers, students in the program often do better in school and can also earn scholarships for being involved in the program.
The explorers meet once a week at the Mesa Public Safety Training Facility for three hours. The first portion of training is focused on honing their physical fitness skills with push-ups, tire flips, medicine ball tosses, and a variety other physically demanding tasks. Campo himself leads the explorers in their physical fitness training, a responsibility he said he’s proud to have.
“When I joined, the officers noticed I was fit and had a passion for fitness so they put me in charge of PT and I’ve just really taken off wit it and enjoy it,” said Campo.
The rest is spent in the classroom where Anderson and other lead officers teach the students law enforcement skills and tactics.
Beginning explorers spend time learning the basic skills such as first aid and CPR certification, communication and radio skills as well as basic police protocols. After completing their training in these areas explorers have the opportunity to become more involved in the program and police department. Often times, veteran explorers will ride along with patrol officers.
“We keep them in a safe environment, but at the same time they get to see what a patrol officer would get to do on a day to day basis,” said Detective Anderson.
According to Anderson, explorers also have the opportunity to participate in the DUI Task Force and traffic control. Mesa PD explorers were heavily involved in the traffic control procedures for the recent Veteran’s Day Parade.
For more information on the program visit http://www.mesaaz.gov/POLICE/explorers.