By Mary O’KEEFE
Once again the Crescenta Valley Sheriff Station Explorers have gone to a competition and returned with trophies. The competition was held at Pitchess Detention Center in Castaic and hosted by the Palmdale Sheriff’s Station.
This was the first time Palmdale has hosted the LASD Region 1 Explorer Competition, which challenged the Explorer members in a variety of scenarios.
The CV Sheriff Explorers were awarded first place in both Family Disturbance and F.A.T.S. (Field Action Training Simulator), second place in Prowler There Now and third place for High Risk Vehicle Stop.
Steven Cronkhite, captain of the station’s Explorers, said the team performed well during the Family Disturbance scenario.
“There were three parties we had to interview,” he said. The team members were required to conduct the interviews and determine if there was a victim and if any crime occurred. Although it was only a scenario, it was similar to the reality of what Explorers face when they are out in the field.
“When we are on ride-alongs we see domestic violence,” Cronkhite said.
Explorers are required to attend a Sheriff’s Academy where they take about 184 hours of instruction during an 18-week training period conducted on Saturdays. Once they have met all the requirements and have completed the Academy, they go into the field as volunteers.
That includes ride-alongs with deputies where they get real life law enforcement experience and, at times, “annoy … the deputies,” Cronkhite joked.
The fact that the Explorers had faced Family Disturbance calls in the field, Cronkhite said, helped them take the first place award in the competition.
“We were the first out of 14 posts that asked if the husband had had anything to drink,” said Explorer Thomas Halaszynski.
Other scenarios included a high-risk felony stop when the Explorers had to extract the driver and passenger from the vehicle and conduct a “proper” search.
During the F.A.T.S. competition, the team faced a simulation where their response time and ability to make quick decisions came into play.
“We had to clear each room and [shoot] the correct target,” Cronkhite said. “Our best time was one minute, 26 seconds.”
The competition in Castaic was just one of many the Explorers travel to throughout the year. The events help build their skills while allowing them to work with other agencies.
“It was a great learning experience and was definitely an eye opener to the competition world for the new Explorers,” said Christian Herrera. “It was also encouraging that we took home two first place trophies.”
The Explorers is a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department program that was started in 1969. Members are from ages 15 to 21 and get to serve alongside deputies at the station. They work as volunteers and support deputies, reserve officers and volunteers on patrol.
For information, contact Deputy Jeff Martin at the Crescenta Valley Station, (818) 248-3464.