–by Mary Helen Darah
PUBLICATION DATE: Feb 05, 2019
For young adults, ages 14-20, interested in law enforcement, the Sylvania Police Explorer Post is a great way to “try on” a career before making a commitment. The program, sponsored by the Sylvania Police Division and the Sylvania Township Police Department, provides a unique opportunity of career orientation and exploration for young people interested in a career in criminal justice. The Sylvania Explorer Post meets its mission of offering young adults a glimpse into the day to day life of professionals working in law enforcement and/or the criminal justice system through training and hands-on experiences.
Patrolman Kevin Steinman, who has been with the program for nine years, is considered the backbone of the program. His associate, Patrolman Chad Amstutz, an Explorer advisor, has been with the program for five years. “I began a full-time role with the program in March of 2016. I have been loving it ever since,” he said. “We offer training in various areas such as accident investigation, building searches, domestic disputes, crime scene processing, firearms safety and more. One of their favorite activities is role-playing and working through scenarios. The Explorer Post takes part in a yearly competition called ‘Heart of Ohio’ that brings together kids from all over the state to compete in various scenarios, such as domestic disputes, search and arrest, burglary in progress, and many more. This year, we will be meeting in Columbus, but it is held at a different location annually.”
During even years, the group also attends the National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference. Last year it was held at Purdue University in July. It is attended by thousands of Explorers from across the nation. Patrolman Amstutz stated, “The kids walked away with fifth place in the traffic stop scenarios.”
Patrolman Amstutz believes the Explorer program is an exceptional experience for those wanting to explore the field. “Some of the kids going through the program will end up in law enforcement,” stated Patrolman Amstutz. “Our ultimate goal is to have participants in the program continue their careers either in Sylvania or Sylvania Township one day. They were trained in Sylvania and it is an ideal scenario for them to be part of our force. Sadly, over the last couple of years, departments are seeing lower numbers apply in the law enforcement field. Many young people have been exposed to negative images of being in law enforcement. We are here to show them, that although it is a tough environment, it is very rewarding.”
In addition to the age requirements, to be a member of the Sylvania Police Explorer Post young adults must have completed the eighth grade, they must reside in the city of Sylvania, Sylvania Township, or the Sylvania School District and maintain a “C” average in school. Typically, meetings are held every other Monday evening. Once completing a year of service, an Explorer is eligible to participate in “ride-alongs” with members of the Sylvania and/or Sylvania Township Police departments. In addition, Explorers may be selected to become members of the Explorer Post Honor Guard. Members march in parades, participate in the Sylvania Fall Festival and annually visit Woodstock, Ontario, Canada, Sylvania’s Sister City. Explorers are also trained in CPR/AED, life skills and character and leadership development.
“We encourage kids that may be interested to check out the program,” stated Patrolman Amstutz. “It’s a great way for kids to receive encouragement and guidance. If they are curious about law enforcement they should give it a try. If they don’t like it, it’s better to find that out while in high school before making a commitment later on in their academic careers. I enjoy seeing what emerges from our Explorers. Many overcome shyness, express their feelings, gain trust and especially gain confidence. The best part of what I do is having the opportunity to interact and build rapport with these great kids. It’s our hope that we can provide a positive experience that will lead to them entering the law enforcement field and even better if they end up here in Sylvania.”