Teenage Police Explorers to help Glenwood Springs police direct traffic during Strawberry Days Parade
Special to the Post Independent
Glenwood Springs Police Department’s youngest enlistees will hit the streets this weekend, directing traffic and maintaining order during Strawberry Days.
As members of the department’s Police Explorer program, three local teenagers are scheduled to patrol the parade alongside and under the supervision of Glenwood’s finest, Sgt. Dan Scott said.
“This is a great opportunity for the explorers to get some hands-on training while learning how to interact with the community,” Scott said. “They’ll mostly be doing traffic control duties and helping us manage the crowds during the parade Saturday.”
Police Explorers is a program open to teenagers and adults ages 14-20, and serves as a recruitment tool for the department, said Scott, the program’s coordinator.
Program advisor and GSPD Det. Jeff Fain said Police Explorers offers youth an opportunity to learn more about law enforcement before deciding whether or not to pursue the career field.
“So many of our fresh applicants have no clue what police do when they apply,” Fain explained. “This program gives them training on many of our day-to-day duties, which in turn gives them a leg up should they choose to apply for a job.”
Glenwood Springs High School students who participate in the program earn elective credits, Scott said, and the department is working to secure a similar deal with other high schools in the area.
The explorer program, a nationwide initiative, serves youth until they are 20, because they become eligible to apply for a position on the force at 21 years old.
With the program being less than a year old in Glenwood Springs, all of the explorers are in their first year. Tucker Stinson, a 16-year-old GSHS student who was born and raised in the valley, joined the program because he hopes it will help his career later in life.
“I want to be a cop some day,” Stinson said. “And I really enjoy learning stuff like this. I’m looking forward to working the parade tomorrow, because we’ll actually be doing something.”
While the explorers meet regularly and train on various tasks, such as radio etiquette and use, hand-to-hand combat and when an officer should use force during an encounter, Stinson said most of the training has occurred in the classroom. On Saturday, Stinson, 16-year-old Jared Deras and a third explorer will be able to apply some of what they’ve learned since 2021, when the program began, in a practical setting, Stinson said.
The explorers are also scheduled to do ride-alongs with GSPD officers throughout the weekend, providing them with more perspective on what working a festival is like through the lens of a law enforcement officer.
“This year, we only have three of our seven explorers participating in the parade detail,” Scott said. “Mostly because it’s voluntary, and many of our explorers work summer jobs. But, in the future, it will be a mandatory part of the program.”
Jared Deras, the son of GSPD Police Chief Joseph Deras, said this Strawberry Days would be his first, and he was looking forward to experiencing it as an explorer.
“It’s an opportunity to help the community,” Jared Deras said.
Stinson, who’s attended numerous Strawberry Days festivals, said working the parade would be a nice change of pace.
“I like that we’ll have a purpose,” he explained, “rather than just standing around and watching the parade like normal.”
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