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Calling all law enforcement hopefuls! The California Highway Patrol Hanford office is expanding the successful statewide CHP Explorer program into Kings County.

The CHP Explorer program is a unique and challenging opportunity for young men and women to explore a career in law enforcement.

Officer Vince Roeber, who will be the adviser for the new program along with several co-advisers, said this will be the first Explorers post for the Hanford area CHP office.

In Kings County, the Hanford Police Department, Lemoore Police Department and Kings County Sheriff’s Office all have Explorer posts.

Officers and deputies consider Explorer posts an integral part of law enforcement operations that provide service to their local community, and the CHP is no different.

Roeber said he has experience with youth, volunteering with the youth group at his church and being a water polo coach at Hanford High School for seven years, and he considers himself “lucky” to be in charge of this new program.

Explorers will be trained similarly to actual CHP officers, something Roeber said is a bonus if they plan to pursue a career in the CHP because they will be familiar with the tactics and structure.

“Because of this training, there is a 95 percent success rate from Explorers who attend the academy,” Roeber said. That's a good success rate, he said, considering only 60-70 percent of cadets make it through the academy.

He also said this could be the way for young people to decide if they really want to be officers, especially because something may sound cool but once they learn what really goes into the job, they may decide it’s not for them.

“I wish I had been involved with this when I was younger,” Roeber said. “It definitely offers a leg up.”

In addition to being trained in many areas of law enforcement, they will be working alongside officers and will get the experience in what a career in law enforcement would be like.

Explorers will gain experience through ride-alongs with officers in the field, DUI checkpoints, community service, office clerical duties, physical fitness training, first responder medical training, fundraising events, traffic control details and Explorer competitions throughout the state.

Explorer competitions are a high point of Explorer training; they provide the opportunity to compete against other posts for honors.

The competitions take a considerable amount of time, effort and training. Preparations begin months in advance and certain Explorers are specifically trained for certain events.

Advisers say competing against other posts fosters a sense of teamwork, camaraderie, pride, fellowship and loyalty among the group.

Competitions consist of law enforcement scenarios, including building searches, SWAT entries, foot pursuits, patrol car driving courses, felony traffic stops, DUI investigations, marksmanship and athletic events.

Roeber said the competitions aren’t all about winning; they are about giving the Explores an opportunity to experience true-to-life situations in a controlled setting.

Minimum requirements to join the CHP Explorer program:

  • Be between 15-21 years of age
  • Have at least a 2.0 GPA
  • Have an interest in law enforcement
  • No alcohol or drug use
  • Good citizenship
  • Have no felony convictions

Roeber said a typical post is between five and 20 people and hopes a lot of people apply.

After filling out an application, Roeber said applicants will be interviewed and given a background check if officers think they are a good fit for the post. If the background is all clear, he said advisers will decide who gets to become a cadet.

Roeber said the Explorers will basically experience long-term careers in the short term. He said they will start as cadets, and then become officers and some will go on to become lieutenants and captains.

Roeber said he is hoping to start meetings in January and invites anyone interested to grab an application at the CHP office and talk with officers.

“This is a great process if this is the line of work they want to go into,” Roeber said. “I encourage them to take this opportunity.”

News Reporter

News reporter for The Sentinel

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