GENESEE COUNTY — Local high school students who are interested in becoming police officers will soon have a new outlet for learning law enforcement skills.
On June 17, Genesee County Sheriff Chris Swanson announced that a Flint/Genesee County Police Explorer chapter has been launched for area youth. The program, which is expected to start in September, was created through a partnership between the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, Flint City Police and the public safety departments at the University of Michigan-Flint and Mott Community College.
Swanson said that the program’s enrollment will be initially capped at 15 members, but he anticipates that class sizes will grow once more local agencies get involved with the chapter.
Raymond Hall, Director of Public Safety for U of M-Flint, said that the explorer chapter is designed to attract young people into a law enforcement career, while teaching them essential life skills through hands-on activities.
“The explorer program gives (students) a real look into the mechanics of policing,” he said. “They will be learning everything from filling out a traffic accident report, to conducting a traffic stop, to protocols involved in courtroom testimony. Our goal is that if explorers choose to go into law enforcement…they’ll be academy ready.”
Hall described explorer training as “intense.” Students who sign up for the program receive uniforms, ride along with police officers on patrol and go through many of the same inspections and drills that police academy cadets undertake.
Explorers will also get to participate in an elaborate induction ceremony in front of their families and travel across Michigan to compete in tournaments against other explorer posts.
While the explorer program could help to groom a new era of law enforcement personnel, Hall said that the chapter will play a much more impactful role as an extension of community policing.
“This gives us a chance to connect with young people in our community,” he said. “We want to serve as role models and make this a life-changing experience for them.”
Additionally, students will learn diversity-based instruction and ethics training—two areas that have become focal points in the nationwide debate over police reform.
“If we really want to make change, it starts from the generation that’s coming up—the future leaders of our nation,” said Sheriff Chris Swanson. “I’m glad that we get to be a part of this change.”
In addition to receiving support from local agencies, the program is also being backed by the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor’s Division of Public Safety and Security.
Area high schoolers who want to take part in the Flint/Genesee County Explorers chapter can register at go.umflint.edu/explorer. For more information, contact the University of Michigan-Flint at 810-762- 3335.