By Mary O’KEEFE
On Saturday, the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Post Explorers participated in the 2013 X Games that were hosted by the Learning for Life portion of the Boy Scouts of America.
The Explorers participate in several competitions during the year when they are put in situations that mimic those that law enforcement officers face on a daily basis.
In the most recent competition, the Explorers joined 21 other posts totaling about 400 police Explorers at the Hahamongna Watershed Park in Pasadena to compete in a variety of scenarios including burglary now, high risk warrants, crime scene investigation and officer ambushes.
Capt. Christian Herrera led the CV Explorer team. Herrera was promoted to captain in April 2013. The Explorers are constantly training which includes participating in ride-alongs with Los Angeles County sheriffs.
Herrera said that, just like in real law enforcement situations, the competition scenarios are never the same twice.
“I just tell [the Explorers] the goal is to adapt, overcome and get home safely,” he said.
That philosophy helped the team in what Herrera said was one of the most difficult scenarios.
“I think the DUI (driving under the influence) was the hardest because that is something none of us had trained on,” he said.
Herrera and Lt. Tommy Halaszynski knew they would have to compete in handling a DUI situation, so they went to Sgt. Mark Slater at the CV Station for guidance. Slater had served several years as traffic sergeant and had the experience the Explorers needed to help them learn the procedures required.
“He gave us some videos to study,” Herrera said. “And we were cramming.”
They ended up placing third in the DUI traffic stop competition.
The officer ambush scenario tested the team’s dedication, training and instincts.
“We had some training in this, but we had no clue what [organizers] would throw at us, “ Herrera said.
The scenario involved a caller who reported a woman acting suspiciously. She was mumbling to herself and had a bag that appeared to have wires in it, Herrera recalled. The team evaluated the situation and cordoned off about five blocks of the area, then waited for the bomb squad to arrive.
They were then told the sergeant wanted them to inspect the possible bomb.
“I was walking with (Explorer) Jeremiah (Seidman). Tommy was talking to the suspicious person and another Explorer was watching the reporting party,” Herrera said.
As they were walking, Seidman told Herrera that they should pay attention to the reporting party, that he could be setting up an ambush.
“As we turned around, we saw [the reporting party] pulling a gun from his waistband,” Herrera said.
But an Explorer nearby had his simulated gun drawn and the other team members quickly responded.
They won first place.
The total awards the CV Sheriff Explorers brought home were: first place in officer ambush, felony traffic stop, and burglary now. They placed third in high risk warrant, DUI traffic stop, and active shooter, along with fourth place finishes in domestic violence, crime scene investigations and suspicious persons.
The Crescenta Valley Explorers are a dedicated group of young individuals who train every Monday in preparation for their next competition. Their training this year has paid off already with 18 trophies in three competitions, stated Sgt. Burton Brink.
Sheriff’s Dept. personnel along with civilian advisor Steven Cronkhite train the explorers.
Explorers are between the ages of 14 and 21. Anyone interested in joining the Crescenta Valley Explorer Post can contact the Explorer advisor at (818) 248-3464.