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4 agencies hosting Police Explorer event
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The cadets from left to right are Kayla Wattle, Modesto; Kirsten McClure, Ripon; Andrew Glover, Tracy and Josh Luis, Manteca Police Department. The chiefs of police from left are Mike Harden, Modesto; Richard Bull, Ripon; Captain John Espinosa, Tracy, and Dave Bricker, Manteca. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin
Police Explorer cadets from four departments are planning a tactical three-day meet – “The California Challenge” – at Manteca’s Sierra High School on July 15-17 of next year.

In a plan to cut expenses for the regional event expected to draw some 300 police cadets from throughout the state, and from as far away as Las Vegas and Hawaii, Manteca has joined forces with Tracy, Ripon and Modesto.  Chiefs from the four police agencies met last week in Ripon with their student cadets and their officer mentors to launch the collaborative effort of planning.

In the upcoming years the meet is to be hosted by the other departments, making it more cost effective.  Manteca’s program alone serves some 20 teens between the ages of 14 and 21.  

Manteca’s Chief Dave Bricker was joined by Chief Richard Bull of Ripon, Modesto Chief Mike Harden and Tracy Captain John Espinosa.

The Manteca cadets competed in a similar meet in Oxnard last year where Manteca officer Mike Kelly and Modesto’s Eric Schuller mulled over the possibility of having a similar contest in police readiness in or near their home towns.  Oxnard has had to discontinue its Explorer meet because of the downturn in the economy.  The 12 Manteca cadets won out over Los Angeles Police Department’s Explorer program last year.

The cadets are put through a series of scenarios in the competitions that ready them to enter a police academy when they reach the age of 21.  Within the four departments there are some 70 cadets who will play the part of hosts and role players in the different training segments.

The scenario challenges that cadets will encounter include hostage negotiations, active shooter, bus assault, hostage rescue, crime scene investigations, high risk traffic stops, burglaries in progress and clearing a residence at gun point.  Real guns will be used with paint ball ammunition, Kelly said.

The cadets are planning to design commemorative T-shirts for the event and challenge coins that are having the patches of the different departments engraved on the back of the coins.  Cost for entering the competition is expected to be between $75 and $100 and is to include lunch and dinner.  Area motels are planned as billeting locations where officers hope to obtain group rates.

It was noted that the officers who serve as mentors for the cadets do so on their own time without pay.  Last week Officer Kelly and retired officer Clei DeFreitas took 17 Explorers to Marine World for a day of fun.  

“Our program is running strong,” Kelly said.

Kelly said that the three-day meet is going to be a serious event by day and fun at night with organized events that include dancing and even a boxing booth.

The officers serving as advisors to the cadets – including the four police chiefs – were all cadet Explorers during their teen years.  Officers, past and present, on the Manteca Police Department who were in the cadet program include Steve Schluer, John Machado and Zeb Hammonds.

The police cadet program is a non-profit 501(c) 3 and welcomes anyone wishing to offer their sponsorship for the upcoming meet.  For more information on sponsorships call Officer Mike Kelly at 456-8237 at the Manteca Police Department.