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Teens get opportunity to protect and serve

OCEANSIDE — The Police Explorer program gives teens the opportunity to learn about police operations firsthand and serve the city as law enforcement volunteers. 

“It allows those individuals to learn about the law enforcement profession and work inside the Oceanside Police Department where they live,” Tom Aguigui, Oceanside police captain of the field operations division, said.

Participants in the program are trained in working with the public, crowd control, public speaking and basic first aid.

Continuous training is given in-house by Oceanside police officers. Instruction becomes more in depth as Explores stay on with the program.

“It’s a mentoring program for us with community youth,” Aguigui said. “At minimum it exposes them to a profession.”

“We take great pride in our youth,” he added.

Further training takes place at the Police Explorer academy. Instruction is divided into three weeklong sessions.

“It’s a week long with a boot camp atmosphere,” Aguigui said.

Once Explorers master necessary skills they add to police manpower and help with countywide traffic control and crowd management at events.

“They work alongside police in a volunteer role,” Aguigui said. “The roles are dedicated by staff. It’s a partnership that goes both ways.”

“There’s always risks,” Aguigui added. “They’re out there participating in the safest manner. It’s a good environment for them.”

Interested teens and adults ages 14 to 21, from Oceanside and nearby cities, are asked to commit two years to the program. Many participants stay on longer.

Skills in leadership and responsibility are taught that can be applied to many job situations.

Some Explorers decide to become police officers.

“They get a more detailed look at the law enforce profession,” Aguigui said. “We’d love for them to become police in our city.”

The program is sponsored in part by Boy Scouts of America.