Folsom Police Explorer Program
L to R: Adam Hillman, Andrew Elam, Chad Friedrich and Alec Stout – Photo by Dante Fontana © Style Media Group
Randall, 19, is a student at a local community college and also entering his fourth year in the Folsom Police Department’s Explorer program, which launched in 2012 and is open to men and women aged 14-20 who are not only interested in learning more about law enforcement, but also want to learn important life skills. The program’s roots are in the Boy Scouts, which helped create a national model for connecting young people to education, training and community service through their local police and sheriff’s departments.
“In addition to the law enforcement curriculum, we give them tools they can apply to any career,” says Detective Chad Friedrich, who oversees the Explorer program for the Folsom Police Department. “We teach them about interviewing for a job, how to dress, how to research a job opportunity, how to resolve conflicts and self-discipline.” Make no mistake, however: Explorers also learn a great deal about being a peace officer. Course instruction covers handcuffing and self-defense, law and the Penal Code, traffic control, crime scene investigation, dispatch and crowd control. Explorers also go on ride-alongs and assist at DUI checkpoints. “They learn to do everything we do,” Friedrich says. “And one of the best ways the community can support this program is to utilize it.”
To that end, he means the Explorers are like an auxiliary to the Folsom Police Department itself. Local event organizers can involve the Explorers in traffic control, first aid, serving as extra sets of eyes and ears for police and fire departments, and handing out information. They’re not sworn officers, so actual enforcement and arrests are still left to the professionals, but as the slogan promises, they’re here to serve. Given that each Explorer must commit to a minimum of 16 hours of volunteer work per month, Friedrich really wants the community to take them up on it.
The application process is always open, and participants can join at any time. In addition to the age and volunteer hour requirements, Explorers also must be in good health, live within city limits, maintain a 2.0 GPA, have a clean criminal record and pass an oral interview and drug test. There is no cost to join the program.
“The biggest thing for me has been seeing how law enforcement really functions,” Randall says. “You see it from the other side, so if you’re ever dealing with an officer or seeing something in the media, you have a better understanding of what’s going on. It’s been eye-opening to learn why and how officers do what they do.” •
For more information on the program or to apply, contact Detective Friedrich at 916-351-3548 or firstname.lastname@example.org.