Porterdale youth have an opportunity to receive a jumpstart on a career path in law enforcement.
Residents age 14 to 20 can join Explorer Post 1917 and learn the ins and outs of law enforcement. There are six members, and the post is looking for recruits.
The post, part of the Law Enforcement Career Exploring program, is run by Porterdale Police Department Sgt. Jason Cripps, post commander, and Officer Daniel McGinnis, post adviser.
The post aims to help students develop themselves as intelligent, caring members of society who understand the importance of civics and have a respect for the law. Members are given uniforms and meet biweekly at Porterdale City Hall.
"We want to instill leadership in the explorers," Cripps said. "If we can get a hold of young adults at this age, we can change the future. You have an idea of what you want to do with your life at a young age, so we show them the ropes early."
Explorers learn about many facets of law enforcement, including routine traffic stops, self-defense, police and SWAT tactics, Georgia laws and officer safety.
At a recent meeting members learned about safety while on patrol. Explorers were shown how to keep themselves ready for anything while on a call and saw footage of officers who have made mistakes, leading them to be injured on the job.
"They learn everything that we do," McGinnis said. "We can even let them ride with us, though we don't let them get out of the car for safety purposes."
Law Enforcement Career Exploring is not only for those interested in criminal justice, however.
"I want to go to culinary school," said Karen Johnson, a 16-year-old explorer with post 1917. "Even though it's not in my career path, it directs kids in a good path."
Along with the experience in law enforcement, the explorers can receive scholarships by competing in competitions. The next regional competition is set for June in Gatlinburg, Tenn.
"The possibilities are really endless with the explorer program," McGinnis said.
Cripps and McGinnis enjoy sharing their knowledge with the explorers and hope that they can set a good example by cleaning up Porterdale under the leadership of Police Chief Geoff Jacobs.
"If we only had one explorer, we'd still do it," McGinnis said.