By Tamas Mondovics
Local area youth between the ages of 14 and 21 who are interested in a law enforcement or related career need not look any further, thanks to a long-standing program offered by the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.
Since the mid-1970’s, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 238 has been training local youth and young adults in various areas of law enforcement operations such as firearms, competition teams, hostage negotiations, domestic violence, crime scene, bomb threat response and field first aid.
HCSO spokesperson, Larry McKinnon, emphasized the department’s view of such programs and their importance in serving the community.
“As a former Explorer himself, Sheriff David Gee is a strong supporter of the program as it allows young people to get deeply involved in community and become role models and mentors among their peers,” McKinnon said.
HCSO Deputy, Jason Odom, who is overseeing the program and its current 20 plus participants, spoke highly of the benefits when he said, “As an ongoing program with weekly meetings, Explorer Post 238 helps our young members to gain appreciation and understanding of what law enforcement is all about with pre-employment opportunities in mind.”
One specific feature enjoyed by many is participating in the ride-a-long with patrol deputies, but Odom emphasized that all operations within the Post’s functions are highly anticipated and achievable. “The common thread is that nothing is too difficult for them to handle,” Odom said, adding that several times each year, explorers test their skills and knowledge in competitions with other explorer posts. “Also every other year, we compete at the National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference,” he said.
In addition to training and competitions, explorers participate in various community events and assist the Sheriff’s Community Outreach Division. “To be of good moral character and discipline is vital as well as the ability to maintain at least 12 hours of post activity each month,” he said. “Local youth interested in the program must have a minimum 2.0 GPA, and have to pass a comprehensive background check.”
The Sheriff’s Office is proud of the young explorers and what they are able to accomplish with their future in mind.
For more information, contact HCSO Deputy Jason Odom, at 247-0928.