Space limited; applicants age 14-21 need motivation, good grades and commitment
By Brandi Makuski
The Explorers program is coming to the Plover Police Department- and members are needed to get it off the ground.
Community Service Officer Seth Pionke from PPD said the program is open to young men and women throughout Portage County, and its members will have the “chance of a lifetime” to experience what it’s like to be a police officer.
The type of training available through the program, he said, offers a real-world taste of the job but isn’t available through local police science programs. Pionke said he and others from the department witnessed some of the training during an Explorer event at Camp Douglas, and became convinced it would also be successful in Plover.
“I didn’t know any of this stuff when I came out of tech school,” Pionke said. “These Explorers will get to learn a lot of what we do- and they’ll be safe, precise…they’ll do what we do.”
Explorers will train year-round in many of the same areas as police officers, to include search warrant education and execution, various scenarios, squad car ride-alongs and assist in organizing security at community events, in similar fashion to a police auxiliary. The Explorers will also design and conduct their own physical fitness program, Pionke said.
He called the Explorers a “career program” which could be training future local law enforcement or other community leaders.
A minimum of five young people is required to begin the new Explorers post. Initially, Pionke said, those five members should be mature and dedicated so they can assume leadership roles and help guide other members. The department has room for about 15 members at its start, but Pionke said he expects the program to grow.
“It’ll break my heart to have to turn anyone away, but we only have room for so many,” he added.
The department’s requirements are slightly higher than those of the national Explorers program, Pionke said. A minimum 2.5 grade point average, fluency in English and good mental and physical health are required. Applicants also need a letter of reference, are subject to a criminal background investigation, and must pass an oral interview.
“We want the best of the best here,” Pionke said. “[Explorers] will have ranks, positions, they’ll conduct their own meetings. They’ll help us with training- not just by playing the bad guy, but they’ll also get involved in the some of the top-notch training that’s out there.”
Pionke said applicants will meet either biweekly or monthly, but will have to be “highly dedicated…you can’t just miss meetings whenever you feel like it.”
The Explorers program is open to males and females ages 14-21. A similar Explorers post was installed at the Stevens Point Fire Department late last year.
Applications should be returned to the Plover Police Dept. by early December, Pionke said, but on Wednesday afternoon, no official deadline has been set, nor has a start date for the program itself.
Anyone with interest should contact Pionke directly at (715) 345-5455, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.