Six young people, most present with a parent, took out applications to become new members of the Explorer program during an open house on Dec. 30 at the Mexico Police Department.
Present and past Explorers joined Police Chief Roy Hodsdon to welcome prospective Explorers, four boys and two girls, and explain what the program is all about.
Hodsdon said, “We teach life skills — responsibility, respect, professionals, public speaking, how to deal with people. Even if you don’t want to be a police officer, we’ll still teach you life skills.”
He said Explorers conduct details such flag ceremonies, traffic, funerals, help with 5K races, parking for events, and security for events. By age 16, Explorers are allowed to do ride alongs with police officers and assist with ATV patrols.
There are training opportunities for Explorers from State Police, the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency and the Warden Service for things like traffic stops, building clearance and crime scene investigations.
Hodsdon said there are also many fun activities they do as a group, including four-wheeling, bowling, out to eat, movies and camping.
He said school work and school activities come first for the Explorers. Even at an Explorers meeting, there is a room just for them to do homework, and they often help each other in that capacity.
Hodsdon stressed, “I would never ask you to be informants or narcs, contrary to what some of your peers would say. I also have an open door policy and hope you’d be able to share with someone here if you saw something serious or life threatening.”
Further, he noted that confidentiality with Explorers is a must. “If you see something, it can’t leave the department. It could put someone in jeopardy.”
Hodsdon said they held the open house because of renewed interest from the community. He said he had heard from a dozen parents, in person and through Facebook, who wanted to have their sons or daughters join the prestigious program, which has served the area since 2007.
Among those who have gone through the Explorer program, Cameron Barrieau is now a fulltime officer with the Orono Police Department. Rob Drouin is now a fulltime officer with the Mexico Police Department.
The chief noted that while a youth had to be age 14 to start the program prior, they are allowing 12 year olds to begin with a junior program with the Explorers.
Youths can join up to age 21. After completing the program, several people have gone on to become advisors for the Explorers. People interested in applying for the Explorer program can call the Mexico Police Department at 364-5686.

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