Madison police recruiting youth for Explorers program

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published October 13, 2017

File photo by Erin Sanchez

MADISON HEIGHTS — The Madison Heights Police Department wants to work with the community to make the city safer for all. This includes getting the city’s youth involved in the MHPD’s Explorers program, which is now recruiting.

The Explorers are a group of teens and young adults, ages 14-21, who may have an interest in law enforcement (although this is not necessary), or who are just looking for a way to give back to the community with volunteer time. The Explorers are a branch of the Boy Scouts and governed by them.

At the MHPD, Sgt. Mark Moine is the officer in charge of the Explorers post. He said the Explorers act as an additional set of eyes and ears for police officers, assisting them at busy events around the city. The Explorers receive some police training, and the MHPD uses them to try to purchase tobacco and alcohol at locations licensed to sell within the city, to make sure businesses are following the law about not selling to minors.

The Explorers also receive some training in police activities such as handcuffing suspects, searching buildings, providing first aid, handling firearms, conducting traffic stops and dealing with domestic violence — although actual cases are left to adult police officers. The Explorers will have opportunities to demonstrate their skills in state and/or national competitions held by the Boy Scouts, testing their handling of different scenarios.

“The training aspect is to give the Explorers some hands-on learning about what it is the police officers do on a daily basis,” Moine explained. “There is a minimum of five people needed to participate in the state and national competitions. That is why we are working so hard on recruiting right now.”

The group meets twice a month and tries to work on administrative details such as recruiting, organizing events and training. Some members have been in the post for several years. Once they age out of the program at 21, they can no longer be an Explorer, but they can continue to serve the group as an adviser or apply to the Reserves. 

The Reserves are an adult group that provides security and traffic control for high-traffic venues like the Memorial Day Parade, the Pre-Fourth of July Festival in the Park, the 5K Fun Run/Walk, high school sporting events, city meetings and more. They patrol the city and check parks and other areas where shady dealings may take place, alerting police if they notice anything suspicious.

Like the Explorers, the Reserves are voluntary and nonpaid, although they can be reimbursed $400 for uniform costs if they meet the minimum eight hours of service a month during the year. Reserves must be at least 21 years old and complete a Reserve academy training session — the kind offered at most community colleges that have a police academy.

On Devil’s Night — the night before Halloween — the Explorers will go out on patrol with the Reserves and patrol the schools, parks and neighborhoods, notifying police if they encounter anything suspicious. The police will have eight to 10 extra patrol cars out that night.

“I think that all the extra patrols that evening, including the Reserves and Explorers, will help deter potential crime and vandalism,” Moine said.   

To join either group, visit the MHPD in the civic center complex at the corner of West 13 Mile and John R roads, and fill out an application in the lobby. There is a $25 sign up fee for Explorers. Uniforms and equipment are provided. There is also a background investigation and interview for both groups to make sure that those applying are truly interested in assisting the police. 

“I’ll take anyone who is dedicated to putting in the time and effort, and who wants to be involved,” Moine said. “We are looking for honesty, good moral values and dedication.

“Communication is the most valuable tool in law enforcement. It’s not required for (Explorers), but it’s one of the most important things that we teach,” he continued. “The Explorers make a difference by showing others there are ways to give back to the community and help others. I also believe it’s very rewarding for the Explorers to be a positive influence on those who see them in action at the different events where they work. And they allow our regular patrol officers to stay focused on their duties, since we can call on them if needed.”

Moine said he feels pride in seeing the teens and young adults mature through the program. The program gives the kids confidence and teaches them responsibility and good communication. Volunteering with the Explorers also looks great on college applications and work résumés. It could even help them discover an interest in law enforcement as a profession, or at least help them better understand the work that police do.

Madison Heights Police Chief Corey Haines said the Explorers bring together the police and the public.

“As you know, I spend a lot of time working to cultivate a relationship of trust and respect with our community,” Haines said. “The Explorers are another way of reaching that relationship.”

For more information, call the Madison Heights Police Department at (248) 585-2100.