“The Junior Explorer program is an opportunity for young adults ages 10-13 to be involved with the community, learn about leadership, and law enforcement,” stated Sergeant Jason Doherty of the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, who is also the head of the Orange County Junior Explorers program.
“Young adults this age want to be involved in something, whether it’s after school programs or sports,” explains Jason Doherty. “The Junior Explorers is meant to educate youth that are interested in learning about a career with law enforcement. It offers an early opportunity to see what Explorers do and become active in the community,” describes former Explorer, Cameron Mosher, who is now one of the main leaders of the Junior Explorers program.
While in the program, Junior Explorers will be taught “law enforcement basics, discipline, drill, physical training, how to perform building searches, felony car stops, searching techniques, and how OCSD functions.” In addition, they will get the opportunity to “tour many facilities including the Harbor Division, EOC/ECB, Operations and Investigations, Air support, K-9, SWAT, and other divisions in the department,” according to the OCSD Junior Explorer brochure.
Thirteen-year-old Jesse Ross who currently attends Yorba Linda Middle School joined the program because of his sister, and because of the Junior Explorer program, she is now an officer for Fullerton Police Department.
Even if students are not seeking to be in any kind of law enforcement, “this program will teach the young adults about the organization, rank structure, discipline, and teamwork. It will also stress leadership and confidence, all these are traits needed to be successful in any career. As they grow within the program we assist them with job applications, interview techniques and help them gain an edge over their competition for whatever job or career they choose,” stated Sergeant Doherty.
The Junior Explorer program presents challenges, rewarding moments, and responsibilities for young teens joining the program. “So far in the program, physical training has been the most challenging part of the program,” stated Jesse. In physical training, also called ‘PT’, students have to run miles, do sit-ups, push-ups, obstacle courses, and many other ruthless exercises.
Sergeant Jason Doherty explained, “The most challenging part for young adults, I feel, is breaking out of their shell. Most teens are shy or lack the confidence to interact with other young adults they don’t know. This program forces them to be involved and develop friendships for life.”
Besides the challenges, rewarding moments occur constantly. Such as “when you just beat your mile time or [successfully study] for a test about radio codes, the phonetic alphabet, or station numbers,” reported Jesse Ross. “We help them build their confidence, in doing so they also achieve the self-rewarding feeling [of] helping others along the way,” explains Jason Doherty.
Moreover, “when I joined the explorers I became responsible for studying my material, ensuring my uniform was clean and looked professional, and showing up to meetings on time ready to learn. As I promoted in the program I eventually took on more responsibility and was able to use the experience to sharpen my leadership and team skills,” Cameron Mosher explained.
Mosher was originally brought into the program when a friend of his suggested it. He thought it sounded interesting and decided to give it a shot. He started at the Orange County Sheriff Department as an explorer at Post 449 and has developed a passion for law enforcement is what has kept him with the department for the last four years. Though Mosher started assisting with the junior explorers when it was created earlier this year, he began assisting in the program in November of 2015.
“The Junior Explorer program is something the post has had for many years. Separating it into its own program has been difficult but beneficial. It allows members of a younger age group to work together and begin learning the fundamentals of teamwork and peer leadership. It also allows us to deliver information in a more age oriented and comprehensive way,” Mosher stated in an interview with the Matador Messenger.
Although “the Junior Explorer program is limited as to the police activities or events these young adults can be exposed to, once they turn 14 and transition into the Explorer program the involvement opportunities grow tremendously. Once they transition to Explorer, they can now compete, do ride alongs, promote, [and] work several events throughout Orange County with other Explorer programs,” stated Jason Doherty, in an interview with the Matador Messenger.
In order to qualify for the Junior Explorers, “applicants must be in sixth, seventh, or eighth grade, ten to thirteen years old, must be in good standings with school administrators, and must have no criminal convictions,” details the Orange County Sheriff Department Junior Explorer hand-out. “We are looking for strong-minded, dedicated applicants who want to succeed in life; they must be willing to learn and have fun while doing so,” Sergeant Doherty continues.
Cameron Mosher further explains, “The Junior Explorers leads into the Explorer program which is designed for youth and young adults ages 14-21 that are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement. The Explorers learn department values and basic protocol. They go through a stress academy which is meant to simulate the deputy academy, they train for and attend tactical competitions where they can put the training they have received into practice. Explorers offer a great foot in the door for those wanting a career in our department.”
The location of the Post 449 Junior Explorers association is at 15991 Armstrong Avenue, Tustin, CA. 92782 with two-hour meetings held bi-weekly. If applicants are interested in the Junior Explorers program, they can fill out an Explorer Interest Form on the OCSD website (www.ocsd.org). Click on “Join OCSD Explorer Post 449’ then ‘Explorer Interest Form.”