Sheriff’s Explorer program offers youths exposure to cop work |

Sheriff’s Explorer program offers youths exposure to cop work

FRISCO – Young folks can get a taste of law-enforcement first hand through the Summit County Sheriff’s Office Explorer program, which offers opportunities from ride alongs to firearms training and more.

“We’re not your normal after-school program,” Sheriff John Minor said. “The rules are strictly enforced.”

Membership activities can include traffic enforcement and security for community events, tobacco and liquor enforcement and may soon include boat and all-terrain-vehicle training, among others.

The program, which began in the mid-90s, is open to youth aged 14 to 20. It includes opportunities for scholarships, community service and other awards and recognition.

“The ride-along program is where the fun starts,” Explorer advisor and deputy Robert Cornell said at a recruitment meeting Tuesday.

Cadets also have opportunities to participate in active-shooter training with Airsoft and paintball guns, he said.

Tuesday’s meeting involved a high-risk traffic stop simulation with Tommy, a Sheriff’s Office canine. The dog subdued a deputy in a protective suit who was posing as a criminal.

Cornell also showed prospective members the inside of a patrol car. He explained some of the situations encountered on patrol.

Before the ride-alongs begin, cadets must first complete a seven-week academy that includes training for officer safety, hostage negotiation, radio protocol, first-aid, CPR and more.

Nick Hrycaj, 20, of Silverthorne, has been in the program since he was 14. He aspires to become a police officer once he turns 21.

He said the Explorer program gave him valuable tools toward “respecting myself, respecting others and letting stuff roll off my back.”

The program also helped him learn to manage his time and communicate with others, Hrycaj said. And he enjoyed spending time with fellow cadets.

“It’s like being a sports team, that you have something in common and have fun that way,” he said.

The program commitment involves attending weekly meetings for about two hours in the evenings at the Sheriff’s Office in Breckenridge.

While it costs about $350 to outfit a member, Cornell said dues are about $50. Fundraising efforts such as a spaghetti dinner help support the program.

For more information e-mail Cornell at or deputy Matthew Ewert at

Robert Allen can be contacted at (970) 668-4628 or

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