Students get a close look at police work

  • By Katie Murdoch Enterprise editor
  • Tuesday, February 9, 2010 8:01pm

At an age where most teenagers are intimidated to approach adults or someone of the opposite sex, the teenaged Lynnwood Police Explorers seemed unfazed as they walked up to one other, looked each other in the eye and began asking questions during a role play exercise where they reprimanded one another for jaywalking during class earlier this month.

The Lynnwood Police Explorer Post 911 has 15 members ranging in age from 14 to 20.

The Post meets three times per month where students receive training in a variety of law enforcement topics, through classroom lessons and hands-on experience.

Sgt. T.J. Brooks, lead Explorer advisor, said he allows the more experienced Explorers to lead the classroom lessons, but the advisers are quick to swoop in to teach. The two-hour class is split into an hour of lectures and PowerPoint presentations followed by acting out scenarios and practicing tasks such as approaching a jaywalker.

Brooks said an ideal Explorer has the desire to do the tasks required of police officers and has the confidence to be assertive and able to confront people to get the job done.

“It’s certainly a benefit to have those traits but it’s not a requirement,” he added.

Recent highly publicized deaths of police officers have not scared off the Explorers, said Ian Ouimet, an officer and Explorer adviser. In fact, five Explorers joined the post within the last month.

“Some of these guys did community service at the three funerals to show they care about the fallen officers,” Ouimet said.

The Explorers are required to attend all their classes and must complete four hours of assistance at the police department or during community events to participate in a ride along with an officer on patrol once per month. The Explorers also attend community events where they serve as a second pair of eyes in the crowds and while doing parking lot security. They also are required to attend academy training, held twice per year, typically in Yakima.

Explorer Lt. Clif Smith, 19, of Mountlake Terrace, said he has attended eight academies, which he compared to boot camp.

Smith, who is in his fifth year, said the academy condenses training into one week and includes firing paintballs through Glocks, processing ID theft reports and responding to gang fights, to name a few.

“When I started I was completely terrified,” he said. “They break you down as an individual and then build you up as a team.”

Explorer Capt. Tim Schultz, 20, of Brier has been with the program five years.

Schultz said the program has allowed him to meet Explorers and officers from neighboring cities, attend academies and earn college scholarships.

Schultz said some people downplay officers’ responsibilities and assume they don’t do much.

A lot of people don’t like the police and think all they do is assign tickets, when all they’re trying to do is keep drivers safe on the road, he said.

“People don’t seem to want anything to do with officers but when they need them, they go to them,” he said.

Jessica Kinion, 17, of Lynnwood, in her third year, joked she was happy to no longer be the only girl in the class.

“It was kind of weird,” Kinion said. “But they treated me like the others.”

On a serious note, Kinion said her plan is to become a police officer.

For girls interested in the program, Kinion encouraged them to check it out.

“We’re all friends,” she said. “We got their back and they got ours.”

Michael Anderson, 16, of Edmonds, has been in the program just over three weeks. He said his peers and advisers are funny and a great group to talk with.

Anderson said the advisers crack jokes, making it less overwhelming.

“They make you laugh but they can be serious,” he said.

Anderson said his family helped him see the positive work police officers can do.

“When a police officer is helping their own city they’re protecting that city,” he said.

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