By Mary O’KEEFE
The Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station is looking for a few good teens to join the Sheriffs Explorer group.
Explorers are teens who do not necessarily want a career
in law enforcement but find value in self-discipline and challenging themselves. Once recruits are accepted they must
go through an 18 week training session with the Sheriff’s academy. The training is difficult
but not impossible to get through. According to those
who have gone through it, it inspires leadership and self-reliance and, when completed, fosters self-esteem.
Three new recruits were at a recent Tuesday night meeting. Nathan Schultz, Mark Miller and Ethan Van Treese, all 15 years old, are heading into their fifth week of academy training.
“So how is it going?” asked Explorer Stephen Cronkite.
The three just smiled and shook their heads.
“It is [difficult] explaining to my friends what I did over the weekend,” Van Treese said.
“I’m thinking, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’” Schulz said.
“Just follow the rules,” Cronkite advised.
Deputy Jeff Martin is the leader/mentor for the Explorer program. Cronkite has been through the training and at 19 years old now leads the recruit meetings.
Cronkite encouraged the Explorers in training to stay with the program. He told them that about 30 to 40 recruits will start the program but only about 12 will finish.
“You guys understand why they [are so tough on recruits]?” he asked.
He explained that Explorers go out with deputies into the field and although they are not considered reserve deputies they are under the Reserve Forces Bureau. The more training and the more discipline the better Explorer they are and the more they can help.
Martin explained that Explorers could be called out to act as support for emergency situations like the recent fires and flooding.
If Explorers decide to pursue a career with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department they can apply when they are 19½ years old. Training as an Explorer gives them an advantage for training as a deputy.
“I want to better myself and learn more about leadership,” entry said.
“It is training to work as a team,” Schultz said. “It is not about making a better cop; it’s making you a better person.”
All three agreed that the program and the training changes a person. Those who have already gone through the Explorer program share the challenge of explaining to their friends why they joined and continue with the program.
“Your true friends understand,” Van Treese said.
Inquiring friends and academy discipline aside, the Explorer program offers a glimpse into a world most teens do not get to see. They go on ride-alongs with deputies, help with rescues in the mountains and respond to vehicle accidents.
“This is a real family,” Miller said of the deputies they work alongside.
Explorers do not just learn from deputies at Crescenta Valley but also have an opportunity to go to other areas of the County.
“I went on a ride-along in Compton,” said Explorer Chris Davis, 18.
Davis said he was impressed at how the deputies use their instinct when they drive through neighborhoods. He has learned from all the deputies he has worked with.
He said he found the work as an Explorer rewarding.
“We do what we can to help people,” he said.
Martin said the department is always looking for recruits . Those interested can contact Dep. Jeff
Martin at the CV Sheriff’s Station, (818) 248-3464. Teens can audit a meeting to see if they are interested.