Helena Explorers off to Arizona for nationals

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 2, 2002

The Helena Explorers hope their hours of long work and training will pay off when they compete at the National Law Enforcement Explorer Competition July 8-13 in Flagstaff, Ariz.

Sixteen members of the group, made up of Helena, Pelham and Hoover youth, will compete on the campus of Northern Arizona University against more than 5,000 other Explorers across the country.

Helena Police officer and Explorer advisor Michael Jones said &uot;We think we’re ready,&uot; noting the group has trained as much as 20 hours per week since last August, including physical fitness exercises on Saturday mornings.

&uot;Each Explorer sacrifices his and her personal time and work schedule to train for the national competition,&uot; Jones said. &uot;Instead of running down to the beach, they are working hard.&uot;

The Helena Police Explorer Program is a division of Learning For Life chartered through the Boy Scouts of America. It is a Senior Adult division designed to give youth between the ages of 14-21 an opportunity to &uot;Explore&uot; a career in Law Enforcement.

The Helena post will have four teams with four members each taking part in the national competition, Jones said. The team events include such competitions as Arrest & Search, Bomb Threat Response, Hostage Negotiation, Domestic Violence Intervention, White Collar Crime and Traffic Homicide Investigation.

The Explorers were training for the Unknown Risk Traffic Stop event on a recent Saturday in the parking lot of Helena Elementary School.

Brandon Myers, an adviser, was acting out the role of a suspected criminal driving a Camaro. Post captain Matthew Jude and Jeff Cullen, acting as the on-duty police officers, pulled Myers over in their police cruiser.

The pair used its law enforcement skills for the mock arrest, Jones said.

&uot;This is a practical scenario,&uot; he said. &uot;They are trained to watch for threats such as their body movement. They have to keep a tactical position and watch for and react to abnormal behavior.&uot;

Explorer Bo Sevelle agreed.

&uot;We have to watch for everything and expect the unexpected,’&uot; he said.

Explorer Jude said &uot;it’s officer survival&uot; that is taught in the scenarios.

&uot;We are put in a position where guns might be pulled and we have to react,&uot; he said. &uot;We have to think quick on our feet.&uot;

The Explorers will also compete individually in events such a semi-automatic pistol competition, a bike policing competition and an emergency vehicle operations course.

The busy week will also include classtime, Jones said, with certification in subjects like cybercrimes, fugitive investigations, narcotics trafficking and protecting our national borders.

Jones said the Helena Explorers have had plenty of local help in their preparation. He said officers from the Helena Police Department, as well as, Agents from the FBI, ATF, DEA, US Secret Service and Birmingham Homicide have spent countless hours training the Explorers.

&uot;Everyone has been so supportive,&uot; he said.

The city of Helena provided the funds necessary to register each Explorer for competition. Jones said the Explorers have also raised money through donations and fundraising for the cost of transportation and other costs.

Among the many sponsors, he said, were Golden Rule BBQ which is organizing a send off party, Major Dundee’s, which raised more than $750 and Dixie Screen Printing who provided new training uniforms and physical training clothes.

In early June, the Helena Police Explorers competed in the Police and Fire Olympics held in Birmingham. They sent two teams of six members each and competed in the Tug of War event.

Jones said both Helena teams went undefeated until they had to compete against each other for the gold medal. After a long battle Helena Team No. 2 defeated Helena Team No. 1 and took home the gold