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Police Explorers compete against contemporaries
A contingent of Manteca Police Explorers traveled to a recent weekend training seminar in Santa Rosa where they competed against some 100 to 125 other students from the Bay Area to Sonora. - photo by GLENN KAHL
High school and college students who make up the ranks of the Manteca Police Explorers took part in a recent competition held at Sebastopol High School near Santa Rosa.

Advisors Mike Kelly, Clei DeFreitas and Marisa Fernandez served as mentors on the trip.  Both Kelly and DeFreitas are Manteca officers and Fernandez is a records’ clerk at the police department.

Cadet Amy Smith, of Sierra High School, led her team in taking first place in the written exam – the same exam police hopefuls take when applying for a position with a department.

The group traveled to the Napa County community on a recent Friday night with all of the competition taking place on Saturday at the high school campus.

They were put through a series of scenarios including a high risk traffic stop, the use of force, running an obstacle course, and being confronted during a burglary in progress.

Officer Kelly said the advisors heard a lot of favorable comments from representatives of other departments about the demeanor and the presentations of the Manteca Explorers.  Kelly began with the Manteca Police Department in 1986 as an Explorer himself, adding they were called “cadets” at that time.

On June 18 Fernandez and Kelly will be taking five Explorers to Oxnard,  in Ventura  County,  to compete in a three-day “more intense” competition with other high school and college students who are working with police agencies throughout the state.

“We were really proud of all the Explorers who went to Sebastopol,” Kelly said.  There were only two who have been with the program for more than six months, he added.

Explorers attending college currently are Jessa Thomas, Jose Rivera, Travis Tompkins, and Josh Luis.  High school students in the program include Emmanuel Ortiz, Juan Perez, Joseph Graham, Cody Kepler, Jose Solares and Amy Smith.

College students have found being a part of the Explorer Program is a natural progression toward a career in law enforcement as they are often taking criminal justice classes.   They appear to enjoy using  their spare hours to ride along with a seasoned officer on patrol – using the opportunity  to learn more in the field.