Smith County Sheriff's Office starts Explorer program; aims to help young people learn what it takes to work in law enforcement

Published on Wednesday, 1 March 2017 14:01 - Written by

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AUGUSTA ROBINSON,

Trey Fuller, 17, a senior at Chapel Hill, and Sam Brink, 17, a junior at Grace Community School, both said they believe they’ve been called to work in law enforcement.

Brink thinks he would either like to work in the K-9 unit or as a SWAT team member, while Fuller said he would like to become a U.S. Marshal.

They will soon find out some of what it will take for them to achieve their goals. On Thursday evening, they were two of the 17 young people - ranging from ages 14 to 20 - who were sworn into the Smith County Sheriff’s Office’s Explorer program by Sheriff Larry Smith.

Explorer Post 227 provides educational training programs, designed to teach participants about the law enforcement field. The group meets every two weeks and officials, who work in many different areas of law enforcement, come and speak with the post.

Hue Adams, who served in the U.S. Marine Corp and worked in law enforcement for several decades, is one of the post’s advisors. He said the Explorer program gives participants a chance to learn if they would like to work in law enforcement before they go to college and major in criminal justice or enter a police academy.

“This gives them an opportunity to decide if this is for them,” Adams said. “It is a way that we are giving back to the community (through) the sheriff’s office.”

Clayton Taylor, a Smith County Sheriff’s Deputy, is the post’s lead advisor and said the group will learn everything from how to perform a traffic stop to how to examine certain crime scenes. He added, it is great they are learning these skills at a young age and, over time, the group will compete with other law enforcement Explorer posts.

For Heather Stoner, volunteer coordinator with the Smith County Sheriff’s Office, seeing the group form and be sworn in is a source of great joy.

When Ms. Stoner started her new job last year, she said Smith told her he would like her to restart the program at the sheriff’s office. She organized the things needed for the post to form and recruited students from several East Texas schools.

She said she believes participants in the post will learn a lot from their experiences no matter which field they ultimately decide to work in.

“If someone left us and didn’t go into law enforcement, they would still have a wealth of knowledge about (the field) and how their community works,” Ms. Stoner said.

At the ceremony, each member of Explorer Post 227 received an Explorer shirt, patches, a pin and a certificate from deputies, who serve as post advisors. Before Smith swore in the group, he offered them some advice relating to the importance of having integrity in the law enforcement field.

“Integrity is when you do the right thing when nobody else is looking,” he said. “If you remember that, you will be successful.”

CLOSER LOOK:

Those interested in joining or providing sponsorships for Explorer Post 227 can contact Smith County Sheriff’s Office Volunteer Coordinator Heather Stoner at 903-590-2671. A new group of Explorers will start in the spring. Those ages 14 to -20 can join. The fee is $50 for a year.