AMHERST, N.Y. (WIVB) – Dozens of teens and young adults were put through their paces Saturday at the law enforcement training facility on the ECC North Campus.
They were taking part in the 18th annual Law Enforcement Explorer conference, a day-long competition that puts 14-21 year olds up against each other in a wide-range of police activities.
“Police officers on a day to day basis can’t pick and choose what calls they get from the 911 system, so we developed this conference 18 years ago so they have to do everything a police officer would do from start to finish,” explained Genevieve Rak, a retired Buffalo Police lieutenant who serves as the advisor for the Erie County Sheriff’s Office’s City Post.
Area law enforcement agencies sponsor various posts through the Boy Scouts’ co-ed Law Enforcement Exploring program. Young men and women go through extensive training throughout the year to prepare for the annual conference and competition that was held this weekend.
“Exploring is a learning for life program,” explained Dick Hanabergh, the camping and program director for the Boy Scouts’ Greater Niagara Frontier Council.
Saturday morning’s activities started with the participants taking a civil service exam, just as they would have to do to become real law enforcement officers. They also had to complete oral interviews and pass a physical test, as part of the day’s activities.
Much of the preparation, though, was to be ready to face the different scenarios that put them to the test, from handling a DWI stop, to responding to a domestic violence call, finding suspects during a building search, getting a person in a mental health crisis the help they need, assisting during an officer down situation, and more.
In each scenario, law enforcement professionals served as volunteer judges, assigning points based on each Explorer’s performance. Medals are awarded to the top performers in each task.
“The training here is second to none. It really is just going to farther me so much,” said one of the Explorers, Alex Hangen. The 17 year old told News 4 he knew he wanted to be a law enforcement officer ever since he was three years old.
“It’s just really the drive to help people, that’s what drives me,” he said.
Of course, not all of the Explorers taking part in Saturday’s conference will go into the law enforcement field.
Still, organizers say, the skills they learn through the Explorers program are skills that will help them wherever they go in life.
“It’s really all about the kids, any way that we can help them succeed,” Hanabergh said.
The Law Enforcement program is one of several Exploring programs offered by the Boy Scouts for young men and women in Western New York.
You can learn more about opportunities to get involved by visiting wnyscouting.org.