JOPLIN, Mo. – Teens in Joplin are being taught how to arrest people as well as perform traffic stops with the police department.
It’s part of a program called the Explorers. They get to do almost everything a regular officer does minus the gun.
“We work on car stops, contacts with people, we work on reports, we work on how to take notes with people, we work on how to properly stand when talking to somebody,” says John Pena, “basically anything a police officer does, we do.”
The young officers are called Explorers and they’re gaining valuable life lessons from a class taught by the Joplin Police Department.
“When I first joined the post, I hardly talked and I didn’t go out of my way to talk to people and I feel like I’ve changed that,” says Patrick Haase.
“When I first started I was very probably immature and didn’t know a lot and this program has matured me and it’s taught me how to talk to people and respect people,” says John Pena.
“The Explorer program is really good for us because we get to interact with our youth and kind of show them the day to day operations of law enforcement or the criminal justice system,” says SGT. Travis Delzell.
They all start for different reasons.
“I actually got involved with this when I was 16 just to stay out of trouble, and I wanted to be that kid that stayed out of trouble and had stuff to do and at the time I wasn’t sure. So I was like I’ll try it out and then I plan on going into law enforcement,” says John Pena.
“I’ve wanted to be a police officer since I was 5 years old,” says Patrick Haase.
But it’s so much more than just being a cop.
“Not only do we learn about law enforcement but we learn about how to be a good citizen and a leader in our community, and I feel like that’s helped shape who I am,” says Haase.
And seeing some of these teens grow into adults and become officers…
“That’s very rewarding to see that while you bear no responsibility for them going into law enforcement you’ve seen them grow up as a teenager and actually enter that field and you’ve seen them actually become a police officer and excel at that job,” says Sgt. Travis Delzell.
This group meets every Thursday and some of these participants started in the program when they were 14, and now they’re 18. Sergeant Delzell was actually an Explorer too.
For more information, you can visit their website or their official Facebook page.