With a desire to serve and protect, 20 new cadets joined the city’s Law Enforcement Explorer Program for its second academy last week.

“We’re trying to give these students and young person’s a one-on-one experience working in the police department and the law enforcement field,” said Officer William Hughes, the academy’s program coordinator.

By teaching the day-to-day functions of a Copperas Cove police officer, the Explorer Program is designed to encourage cadets to pursue careers law enforcement. Each cadet attends a three-week course where they learn about a variety of police work, including officer safety, officer code of ethics and fingerprinting.

“This program gives them the opportunity to obtain some job experience, and some ‘real world’ training which will give them a leg up on the competition,” Hughes said.

Along with the ample course load, each cadet must adhere to a strict attendance, grade, and community service policy, and advance in the coursework by completing training logs and proficiency exams.

“We’re looking for kids with outstanding grades, moral values, good behavior, who would be a good representative of the police department... those are the ones who will move on to the academy,” Hughes said.

Since the program was restarted two years ago after a 20-year break, it has experienced a steady rise in popularity. Last year’s graduates already are receiving benefits from the program.

“One of our explorers is a dispatcher, two past graduates are in training to become military police officers, and one of our explorers has received a scholarship to Texas Tech University for criminal justice,” Hughes said.

“We’ve really seen the program take off among the (Junior) ROTC, criminal justice interested students, but even more so in the community with parents and family members really encouraging their children to participate in the program.”

The program runs through July 26.

Herald/Erik Papke​

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