SIDNEY —Several area teens have been learning first-hand about law enforcement careers.
They joined the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post, an activity of the Boy Scouts of America, which was launched in January. As a result, they have been able to ride with deputies on patrol, observe in the control center at the county jail and in the dispatch office, assist deputies during the county fair and participate in community service projects.
“I think it’s pretty neat stuff that we get to collaborate with (deputies) a few times,” said member Allyson Duckro, 15, of Sidney. The daughter of Stacie and Mitch Duckro hopes to become a police dog-handler and trainer.
“I’ve been able to ride with Deputy Frank Bleigh and his dog, Colt, a few times and help him,” she said.
The post is facilitated under the direction of Shelby County Sheriff John Lenhart. Deputies Brian Strunk and Dave Spicer serve as group advisers. Members meet twice a month and meetings are led and coordinated by the teens, themselves.
“Our no. 1 goal is to provide a way for youth who think they might be interested in law enforcement as a career to see behind the scenes, to see if law enforcement is something they want to pursue,” Strunk said. “We’re trying to provide positive role models and activities for youth.”
As many as a dozen teens have applied for membership and about eight are regular participants.
Spicer makes sure they understand the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.
“Because the Bill of Rights guides what a law enforcement officer does,” he said. He also leads discussions about current events that affect police work.
“I’ve started focusing on weapons safety,” Spicer said. “There will be a day when we have hands-on training with the guns on the range. We’re also trying to teach kids to give back to the community. You need a community service-minded approach to being a cop.”
To that end, the Explorer Post youth assisted Strunk in leading bicycle-safety courses at libraries throughout the county this summer. They helped run an identi-kid program during the Fort Loramie fall festival. At the annual, two-week, DARE day camp, they served as camp counselors to the 180 fifth- and sixth-grade students who attended. Saturday, they bagged groceries at Agape Distribution.
“And they put in a massive amount of hours at the fair,” Strunk said. In the DARE education booth, they talked to kids, distributed anti-bullying and drug- and alcohol-abuse literature, erected displays and helped elderly fair patrons who called on the sheriff’s office for assistance.
While they appreciate that they are making a difference as community servants, the kids like riding with the deputies the best.
“It’s a good opportunity to see how law enforcement works,” said Walter Conley, 17, son of Paula and Walter Conley, of New Bremen. A junior at Anna High School, he has been interested in police work for some time. Being part of the Explorer post has confirmed his plans for the future.
“I’ve decided that I want to go into law enforcement,” he said.
Sometimes, when young people look into a career path they thought they wanted, they change their minds, but that hasn’t happened with any of the current Explorer Post members, Spicer said.
Duckro, like Conley, is more determined than ever to pursue her K-9 dream, even if training her pet dog, Loki, has been difficult.
“He doesn’t like to listen very well,” the Fairlawn sophomore laughed.
The post accepts new members at any time. People 15-21 who are interested can call Spicer at the sheriff’s office, 498-1111, to get an application form. Dues are $24 per year and members must purchase uniforms that cost from $70 to $120.
Conley highly recommends the program.
“If you’re interested in becoming law enforcement, it’s a good idea to join this,” he said.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.