Seven conferences, seven top 10 percent placements, and this year they're aiming even higher.
The City of Warren Police Department's Law Enforcement Explorer Post 312 is on its way to Colorado and competing to beat its own scores as much as any other post's.
The 18th National Law Enforcement Explorer Conference is scheduled from July 16 through 21 at Colorado State University, and posts from across the country will gather to showcase their skills in 12 different competitions. The event is held every two years.
Times Observer photo by Jacob Perryman
Ready to roll
Law Enforcement Explorer Post 312 Post Sergeant Tiffany Dyke and Post Advisor Brandon Deppen are getting ready to head to head to Colorado where post officers and explorers will compete at the18th Biennial National Law Enforcement Explorer Conference.
This year, members of Post 312 is hoping to come home with an achievement they've come just one point shy of in the past, a top 5 percent ranking.
"We're looking for that trophy," Post Advisor Sgt. Brandon Deppen said. "We've lost by one point. We're really looking forward to going, and normally we're the only post in Pennsylvania that attends."
Twelve post members will travel by Amtrak to Fort Collins, Colo., this year to compete. Each member will serve as part of one of three- four-man teams. The competitions consist of teams participating in scenarios where actors play out situations explorers might face in a law enforcement career.
Each team will compete in a handful of 12 randomly chosen, possible events.
"They tell you to be at a certain place at a certain time," Deppen said. "That's when you find out what you're competing in. Normally none of the teams from the same post compete in the same event."
The event marks varying levels of training for the members, as Law Enforcement Exploring, a part of the Boy Scouts of America's Learning for Life programs, is open to young adults between the ages of 14 and 21 who have completed grade eight.
"Depending on how long they've been in the program they could have been training for a year," Deppen noted. "Others, it could have been four or five years. Some of them, it could be their first year for the conference. Some of them it will be their second or third."
Post Sergeant Tiffany Dyke, who has been in the program for approximately four-and-a-half years, said the conference offers unique opportunities to Explorers.
"It helps you realize things you would never really expect," Dyke said. "Since we know the actors (locally), we know they'll help out. There... you do it right or you're done. You also have to know your team as well. They play a big part confidence wise."
"(At the conference) They run through it as if it were in real life," Deppen agreed. "No one says 'Okay, time out.' and tells you what you're doing wrong."
Post activities emphasize training, Deppen and Dyke said. The Post holds a four day camp at Camp Olmstead in Elk Township and attends annual summer conferences closer to home.
"We just run through scenarios for them," Deppen noted. "We help get them ready for the competition portion."
"Even in the off years we have mini-conferences in Buffalo which help with training," Dyke said. "The post and the conference both, they help you to realize whether this is what you want to do (professionally). they're fun, but it's not just all games. You definitely have to work at it. You definitely have to want to learn and be successful."
The conference also features law enforcement training seminars throughout the week. topics include, psychological profiling, bomb investigations, gang recognition and identification, cyber crime fraud, exploring leadership development, fugitive investigations, narcotics trafficking and interdiction, protect yourself: self-defense techniques, protecting our national borders and surveillance methods and technology.
The post is paying for the entirety of the trip through donations and fundraising events and has raised more than $16,000.
"Their have been a number of generous donations from the community," Deppen said. "A lot of people have donated in small ways and a few in large ways. Every dollar helps."
Deppen cited the Community Foundation of Warren County, American Legion Post 135, Mangione's Beverage and the Pennsylvania State Police Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 48 as giving significant contributions, while a number of fundraisers have been held in the two years since the last conference. The post has served as a paid security detail at local events, received sponsorship through the Fourth of July Firecracker Challenge, held a spaghetti dinner, held a clay shoot, sold pies and bagged groceries just to name a few. They have also received countless small dollar donations.
"Even small amounts, it's nice," Dyke said. "It helps."
Competitions at this year's conference include arrest and search, bomb threat response, judgment pistol shooting, crisis negotiation, burglary in progress, traffic accident investigation, traffic stops, white collar crime, crime prevention, crime scene search, domestic crisis intervention and officer down - emergency field first aid.
Post officers and Explorers competing at this year's event include, Chief Kyle Hanlin, Lieutenant Paul Sherer, Dyke, Sergeant Drill Instructor Steven Kibby, Brandon Hinton, Hunter Mohney, Ryan Hettenbaugh, Patrick Rizzard, Alyssa Cumberland, Jacob Nugent, Devon Wertz and Derek Hanlin. Explorers Gabe Hinton and Ryan Johnson are not attending.