The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 700 will be Colorado-bound this weekend for the group’s inaugural trip to the 2012 National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference.
Explorer Post 700, established in the county in April 2008 for teens 14 and up interested in pursuing a law enforcement career, currently boasts seven explorers and six advisors, according to Explorer Major Dylan Houser.
While the group attended the most recent conference two years ago in Atlanta, Ga., they chose to learn from the event rather than compete.
“That got our feet wet as to what to expect for this year,” Houser said.
Houser has been a member since the Post started four years back and said he’s “enjoyed every minute of it.” He praised the program for the many opportunities it has offered teens.
“This program not only gives youth the ability to get a firsthand look at what law enforcement is all about,” Houser said, “but it gives our members career opportunities, teaches life skills and enables everyone to have a leadership experience.”
According to one of the group’s advisors, Deborah Beck, a 25-year veteran of the Florida Department of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, the Sheriff’s Office is in full support of the Explorer program, but it’s been up to the group to raise all funding for the conference, an amount that ranks in at nearly $4,000 including cost of travel and registration.
Cadets have hosted car washes, a hot dog sale, yard sale and more than a dozen other fundraisers since 2010.
Beck felt called to join the group three years ago at a time when the Post had only male advisors.
“It was important to help as a role model,” she said.
Sheriff David Carpenter stressed to the Times-News the importance of having mentors at a young age. For him, that person was a retired Lincolnton Police Chief Terry Burgin, who at the time of Carpenter’s interest in criminal justice, still served in the city’s notable law enforcement position.
“Terry Burgin was my Explorer Post,” he said. “He would let me ride along with him on weekends during the summer and taught me a lot about becoming an officer by just being and watching him along the way.”
Burgin continued to mentor Carpenter during his early years as a deputy.
Explorer Post 700 meets bi-monthly for hands-on training, during which time, the cadets learn how to successfully handle hostage situations, domestic disturbances, burglaries in progress and traffic stops, among other things.
The group departs Saturday for the conference in Fort Collins, Colo. The competition is set for July 16-21.
Since the program’s creation in 1959, more than 30,000 Explorer Posts have been established across the nation, Houser said.
For more information about the 2012 National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference, visit exploring.learningforlife.org.