Dozens of local teens are taking a break from their normal summer vacations. They are part of a week-long training session with the Lubbock Police Department. Twenty-five teens are making moves towards becoming great leaders. The Explorer Program is jam packed with training, however it's about more than just training future officers.
"We're getting kids ready for law enforcement training at an early age," LPD officer Tino Blanco explained. "The laws as far as traffic, how to handle domestic situations, how to handle traffic stops, defensive tactics, how to interact with people."
"I want to be a future police officer," Explorer Program participant Presley Pace said.
"I want to be a police officer when I'm older," another participant Xavier Rivera said. "I have a couple more years, two more, and this is the right step. A lot of the explorers here are learning big leadership skills. There are a couple that have never even talked in public and they come out here and now we have them command presence and everything. It's not just if you want to be a police officer, it's if you want to be a leader."
"Watching how they take bad guys off the street, take drugs off the street, guns, something that can harm somebody potentially taking it off the streets and making the world a better place," participant Nicholas Hernandez said, explaining why he wants to join law enforcement. He said the reason he joined the Explorer Program is to get more of a physical test-run. "To kind of get more in-depth training and more of an inside look at law enforcement. Kind of a hands-on, what classrooms wouldn't offer," Hernandez explained.
Thursday the group conquered the LPD obstacle course. As the LPD officers walked them through it, they instilled two messages: training future heroes and that no one is left behind.
"Out here, especially the chain-link fences and stuff, it's challenging, especially if you're a guy like me," participant Jerrett Wright said. He explained because of his poor physical fitness level, the course was grueling, but his teammates pushed him and helped him get through all obstacles. "They just motivated me, helped me get back all the way through, helped me get through my courses and stuff. We are all a team, especially right now. Whenever we're doing all this, we cheer each other on and we get through every obstacle together."
"You're only as strong as your weakest link. Pick up the guys that aren't as strong as you. I think it's boosting his self-esteem tremendously. We've done things all week that he didn't think he could do," LPD officer Mike Irvy said. "That's what we're trying to emphasize to these guys. Everybody work together as a team and get everything through it."
Wright plans on getting a criminal justice degree before joining the military. He knows the Explorer Program will help him along the way.
"Even if they're not there with me, they'll always be by my side," Wright said. "They'll always be a phone call, a text or something away."