The Police Explorers program is returning to Columbus.
Boy Scouts of America will officially charter the revamped Explorers in a ceremony Monday evening. Lt. Rick Jones, Columbus Police Department community relations officer and supervisor for the Explorers, announced the charter ceremony to members of the CPD Citizen Overview Committee on Thursday.
Explorers is a program for ages 14-20 that introduces participants to the law enforcement career field and thrusts them into community service opportunities.
Jones, who led the program’s first Columbus iteration starting in the early 2000s, said the program dropped its charter in 2014 because youth membership and officers willing to volunteer to help had both dwindled. During the program’s heyday, which Jones said was about 2006-07, it boasted as many as 110 Explorers.
Many of those participants, he said, went on to become police officers, firefighters or detention center officers locally or across the country.
“This allows the participants to view career opportunities in the whole public service realm, not just police,” Jones said. “These young people also learn more about their community in the process.”
For the past six months, Jones said he’s built the non-chartered Explorers back up to about 20 members — including males and females — and they have already logged more than 170 volunteer hours, mostly helping with community events.
The charter, outside of simply formalizing the program, also gives it access to Boy Scouts of America insurance and legal services, Jones added.
No public money goes to the program, Jones said, so it relies on private donations, fundraising and membership dues. Each member even gets a police-style uniform adorned with Explorer patches.
Assistant chief, CPD numbers
On Thursday, CPD Chief Fred Shelton reported to the overview committee that the application deadline for the vacant assistant chief position is 6 p.m. Monday. After that will come the screening and interviewing process.
So far, he said, six have applied — including two internal applicants.
“By (Nov. 20), the idea is to have a successful applicant to present to the mayor and city council for approval,” Shelton said.
Shelton served as assistant chief before being promoted to chief in January. Edrick Hall held the job for a few weeks this summer before returning to his previous position as Indianola police chief in late July.
Shelton also reported Thursday the officer workforce at CPD had dropped to 60, down from a high of 67 since the chief took the reins. CPD is budgeted to field 70 officers.
The department is currently screening 12 applicants for possible employment, Shelton said, and the successful candidates will attend state academy training in January.
Zack Plair is the managing editor for The Dispatch.
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