Press-Republican

April 24, 2014

Hands-on experience

By FELICIA KRIEG
Press-Republican

---- — PLATTSBURGH — A local program gives students an opportunity to get a taste of what it’s like to work in law enforcement.

Justin Burl, an agent with the Office of Field Operations for U.S. Customs and Border Protection, is chief adviser of Law Enforcement Explorers Post 2100. And he is looking for new members for that group.

Burl heads the organization with Chief Adviser Brad Chambers, an agent with the Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine.

“They’re exposed to all aspects of law enforcement from the federal, state and local activities,” Burl said of the members. “Any possible training we can get our hands on, we’ll do it.”

The program is one of the only units in the nation that’s chartered through all three posts of Customs and Border Protection, he said.

Explorers topics include police patrol, forensics, arrest procedure, bomb response, firearms training, CPR and emergency medical training.

Explorers also participate in a one-week modified police academy at a camp in Vermont each summer.

VARIED INTERESTS

The program, started about six years ago, has about 20 members, including one from SUNY Plattsburgh.

Students are eligible to join after they graduate eighth grade and can remain in the program until age 21.

Members’ future aspirations vary, among them careers in the Armed Forces, forensics, detective work, patrol, border protection and the medical field, Burl said.

Some enroll to simply learn more about the inner workings of the law-enforcement field.

“Anyone that’s interested in languages, this is a great program because of where we can send you (career-wise).”

There’s also a community-service component to the program.

The group assists the American Red Cross in its annual Run for Red and also helped emergency authorities when Tropical Storm Sandy passed through the North Country.

Burl plans to add more community service to the program’s curriculum, he said.

‘HUGE MILESTONE’

In preparation for a national conference and competition in Indiana in July, members of Post 2100 having been meeting twice a week at the Clinton County Office of Emergency Services in Plattsburgh for intensive training.

“This is a huge milestone,” Burl said. “Advisers and law-enforcement specialists from all over the country are (at the conference), and the students enter the competition, the specialists watch them, judge them.”

Clinton County Sheriff’s Department deputies spoke to students at a recent meeting as part of their preparation.

Explorers members have been raising money to cover travel expenses and other costs, Burl said.

‘LEARN A LOT’

Mike Dupre, 17, a junior at Peru Central School, joined the program about a year ago, after encouragement from friends, many of whom are enrolled.

“It’s an amazing time, and there’s amazing people doing it,” he said of the program.

Dupre plans to join the U.S. Coast Guard after he graduates from high school.

The Explorers were able to take a ride in a Department of Homeland Security helicopter, and the students took a trip to the border to learn about procedures for employees there, he said.

“They showed us the X-ray machines and what people need to go through to get through the border,” Dupre said.

“We would go right up to the lane when they were processing cars,” said Derek Scholl, 20, who applied for a job with Customs and Border Protection and is waiting to hear back.

“We also went over to secondary (search) and watched them search a car.”

They also discussed how arrests are made at the border and how agents approach high-risk traffic stops, Scholl said.

‘EXCITED, MOTIVATED’

Tim Bedard, 15, a sophomore at Northeastern Clinton Central School, joined the program in November 2013.

He plans to complete the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps program in college and then join the Army or Marines before applying for a job with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

He’s most interested in working to combat organized crime, he said.

Burl said the opportunity will prepare members well for future careers in the field.

“It’s an opportunity I didn’t have growing up in school, and I’m just proud to see the efforts of the students now and how excited they are to be motivated by it.”

‘GO FOR IT’

Scholl works part-time as a transportation security officer at Plattsburgh International Airport and is slated to graduate in December from SUNY Canton with a degree in law-enforcement leadership.

An almost four-year member of the South Plattsburgh Volunteer Fire Department, he said he has known for a while that he wanted a career in public service.

“I like helping people,” he said.

Scholl said the Law Enforcement Explorers program helps youths get their foot in the door and puts them on the right track toward employment in the field.

“If this is your dream, just go for it.”

Email Felicia Krieg:fkrieg@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @FeliciaKrieg

TO APPLY

Contact Chief Adviser Justin Burl at 569-1196 or justin.burl@dhs.gov or Chief Adviser Brad Chambers at 726-0760 or bradford.chambers@dhs.gov.

The deadline to apply for the National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference is Friday, April 25.

Conference-goers must be members of the local Law Enforcement Explorers before the April 25 registration deadline for the conference.

For more information, go to http://exploring.learningforlife.org/services/career-exploring/law-enforcement.