Explore the FCPD Explorers

 Junior Thomas Ray (furthest away) interacts
to and converses with a few of his fellow Explorers of Post 505.

Katie Pope

Junior Thomas Ray (furthest away) interacts to and converses with a few of his fellow Explorers of Post 505.

Katie Pope, Photo Editor

The whirring of the helicopter blades progressively descends as students and parents record and snapchat an extraordinary phenomenon. The blades slice through the air, stirring up dust and leaves just before it gently lands onto the rough pavement of the parking lot behind the cafeteria. It was 6:00 and the Fairfax County Police Department Explorers interest meeting had just begun.

The helicopter was constructed for emergency medical uses so it had multiple cameras, an advanced gps, and very expensive medical equipment. A single oxygen generator costs $22,000. No one was allowed to touch it. About 100 people, including students ranging from 14 to 21 years of age, as well as parents, gathered around the helicopter, admiring it and asking the pilots questions.

About 50 police advisors and current Explorers were scattered around the rest of the parking lot prepared to give information and tips to future Explorers.

In addition to the helicopter, the FCPD provided brochures about safety tips and law enforcement for the public to look at and take home. A robot and a really sweet golden labrador named Moose were available for entertainment education. Moose wasn’t just any average, adorable dog, he was a well-trained bomb detective. The students and parents asked numerous questions about how the robot worked, how the dog detects bombs, what someone’s specific job was, and much more.

Later on in the evening, everyone gathered in Clausen Hall where high ranked officers and involved parents offered more information about what the program entails and their experiences.

The captain of Post 505, Explorer Rosa Rodriguez, spoke at the meeting about her personal Explorer experiences and what she’s gotten out of it including public speaking skills, confidence, community service hours, new friends and relationships, leadership skills, and much more.

“The program is phenomenal, but our advisors are the ones who help us grow. They push us to do things we aren’t used to doing. such as public speaking, going out to help our community, and letting us know that we are capable of a lot more than we think. As long as we are willing to put in the work, the progress and confidence we gain is great. They help us believe in ourselves,” Rodriguez said.

One FCPD Explorer, junior Galilea Sejas loves the program because of the experience she gets and the new people she meets that have similar interests with her. However, it’s crucial to stay serious when training for real life situations.

“Try your best at every simulation we do because it helps you a lot for conference. Don’t fool around, because it isn’t really a laughing matter in the real world,” Sejas advised. “Conference is a police related competition between posts from different areas. There are different events like response call to domestic violence, bomb call, crime scene coverage, etc.”

The FCPD Explorers have won multiple awards over the past years at conference, so that goes to show; work hard and you will be rewarded.

Post Sergeant FCPD Explorer, junior Thomas Ray commands a squad of explorers and holds rank in Post 505. His favorite thing about the Explorers program is the youth leadership.

Similar to Rodriguez, Ray believes, “Being in this program allows you to learn lots of leadership skills including public speaking, organization, and communication skills.”

They develop these abilities through a wide range of activities including fundraising for special Olympics, learning law enforcement tactics by participating in firearms training, arrest and search procedures, handcuffing, and participating in multiple community service events.

“I recommend potential Explorer recruits to maintain good grades and don’t be too afraid to push yourself and others. You get as much from the program as you put in,” Ray affirmed.

He has personally put in three years of active service to the program. Because of his commitment, he’s had the honor of attending an army military police basic training at an AIT school and meeting the chief of police multiple times.

Though, to be an Explorer, the commitments aren’t overwhelming. There are meetings usually every other Monday, but the supervisors are very flexible when it comes to scheduling conflicts. On Saturdays, the Explorers engage in events such as fundraisers and volunteer opportunities. Explorers are only required to go to one of these events every 90 days.

The FCPD Explorers program can open lots of doors, not just in law enforcement, but to other careers as well such as teaching, medical jobs, and public speakers. It also would look great on college applications, job recommendations, and references.

In order to apply, fill out a four page paper application form, get three references from non-family members, and take a basics knowledge application test (there is a study guide for it), and maintain a 2.0 grade point average.
For anyone who may be interested in law enforcement, and even those who aren’t, but want to learn more about what the FCPD and what the youth Explorers program is all about, check out the Fairfax County Police Department link below.