Winchester officer helps young people interested in police career
Published 8:59 am Tuesday, October 24, 2017
Sometimes people volunteer because of a personal interest. Sometimes it is a way to use their skills, experience and talent for a cause. Sometimes it’s to help the next generation.
For Winchester Police Officer Monty Corbett, advising the Winchester Police Department’s Explorer post incorporates all three.
The Explorers program is an off-shoot of the Boy Scouts of America, but is open to both boys and girls from age 14 to 21 to explore career fields, including law enforcement, firefighting and emergency medical services.
Email newsletter signup
For several years, the Winchester Police Department has sponsored an Explorer post for local teens and young adults. Presently, there are seven active in the post, Corbett said.
The WPD post meets weekly for at least an hour, Corbett said, to study police procedure and learn about law enforcement as a career.
“They’re training in drug identification,” Corbett said. “They do ride-alongs with us.”
The materials are intense. There’s a 164-page manual developed by the post mentors, another 87-page manual for identifying drugs, another manual based on the Department of Criminal Justice Training materials, and other books for law codes and criminal charges. They also provide community service, often helping with traffic control for community festivals and other functions around town.
“They have a better grasp of laws and what police can and can’t do,” Corbett said.”They’re getting their noses in criminal law. They’re getting out and meeting people … everything you’d need to know as a well-rounded officer.”
For some, Explorers is a pathway to a career. Several Explorers and current department employees came from the Explorer program.
“I know when I was their age, I wanted something like this,” Corbett said.
Corbett joined patrolman Steve Charles in being an advisor to the Explorer post a couple years ago.
“This was all new to me three years ago,” Corbett said. “(The post) was fragmenting at that point and we wanted to pull it together.
“At the time, they were looking for someone to help. I was willing to put in the work.”
Part of the work is helping them prepare for Winterfest in February in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which is a regional competition for law enforcement Explorer posts. The explorers can apply to compete in police scenarios from domestic violence calls to DUI traffic stops, as well as a written test, Corbett said. The night before the competition, the Explorers find out where they will compete, he said, so there’s a night to prepare.
Still, the Explorers perform, he said.
“We always finish really high up,” he said.
More than the competition and sharing about his career, Corbett said seeing the Explorers get excited about law enforcement helps keep him coming back.
“They make it worth coming back every year to do this because of their enthusiasm,” he said. “Some of these kids don’t have a good structure at hime. They need an outlet where they feel needed and appreciated. When they put on that uniform, they feel like they’re contributing. If I can be a small part of that, that’s why I keep doing it.”