'Explorers' gives young people law enforcement training - FOX 13 News

'Explorers' gives young people law enforcement training

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CLEARWATER (FOX 13) -

A group of young explorers who are learning whether they want to be police officers or not is What's Right with Tampa Bay.

Pinellas County Sheriff's Officer Explorer Post 900 is winning awards. This is an impressive group of young people, all part of Pinellas County's Explorer's Program.

"I really enjoy it so much that I don't want to leave. It's more like a second family," Explorer Kyle Hughes said.

They recently showed off their physical skills at the Florida Association of Police Explorers Competition.

"We finished first in the state of Florida," Pinellas County Sheriff Deputy James Butterfield said.

Butterfield oversees the program that started in 1974 to give teens a birds-eye view of what it is like to be in law enforcement.

"It's the exact same training that the police officers or deputy sheriffs get trained in," Deputy Butterfield said. "The explorers post are exposed to that first."

Explorers are boys and girls between the ages of 14 to 21. They must maintain a 2.0 GPA and they meet once a week and can't have a criminal record.

"We have a very very high bar of standard and we refuse to lower our bar the explorers need to step up to that bar or they are not in the program." Deputy Butterfield said.

Kyle Hughes wants to be a deputy someday. He's been part of the explorers for 4 years.

His father is in law enforcement and Kyle believes the explorer's have prepared him for this next step.

"It exposes you to everything," Kyle said. "It teaches you morals, leadership and respect."

And for Elizabeth Vogt, she says the explorers has helped her be a better person.

"At my job when people come up and are distraught, I can handle them and correctly bring them to a calm level," Elizabeth said.

A way to give a leg up to possible future officers.

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