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Police Explorers tackle real-life scenarios
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Explorer Josh Luis handcuffs a suspect (Officer David Bright) after he ordered him out of a vehicle that he and fellow cadets stopped in a high risk challenge at Fridays competition. - photo by GLENN KAHL

A series of police academy-styled challenges involved members of Police Explorer groups from throughout the state on Friday.  

Scenarios put the 14 to 21-year-old students to the test for their abilities to think on their feet and to survive on the streets as a police officer.

Opening ceremonies at 8 a.m. in the Sierra High School gym brought police chiefs from the four agencies sponsoring the Central California Explorer Competition – a first for the Manteca, Tracy, Ripon and Modesto departments.  The chiefs included Dave Bricker, Manteca; Mike Harden, Modesto; Ed Ormonde, Ripon; and Janet Thiessen from Tracy.

The competition is planned to be an annual event that will rotate between the four departments in the coming years.  Seven members of the Manteca team were part of the summer Chief’s Academy, according to public information officer Jason Hensley.

High school classrooms were used as crime scene locations where teams of Explorers sifted for evidence attempting to determine the elements of the various crimes and finding their suspects and ending up with a solution that would stand up in court.

The various teams from as far south as the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office to the South Lake Tahoe Police Department and a U.S. Border Patrol group from Riverside went through all of the challenges that were scheduled on Friday and Saturday.  Sunday morning the students will be given their plaques and medals that will be hung around their necks.

In addition to the high school campus, other events were held at the former Qualex building on Industrial Park Drive.  Three challenges were held at that location: building search, high risk traffic stop and an assault on a bus by a lone gunman.

The Explorers were also put to the test with the scenarios of an active shooter, a hostage rescue and a domestic violence situation.  All the challenges were judged by officers working on their own time.  Explorers were told at the conclusion of each scenario about their strong and weak points in their challenges.