Zionsville police starting ‘Exploring’ program for high school students

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ZIONSVILLE, Ind. – Students interested in having a career in law enforcement can get experience and training that isn't too different from the training police receive.

The Zionsville Police Department is starting its own "Exploring: Learning for Life" program that develops education and leadership by providing real-world police experiences.

Zionsville Officer Joshua Chapman, who will run the program, said the department decided to start it up to give students a meaningful experience before pursuing a police-related degree in college.

“One of our sergeants runs the junior police academy here which is for middle school-aged students but once they age out and before they go to college, there’s nothing for them to keep them interested in law enforcement and learning about law enforcement," Chapman said.

Interested Explorers can get a glimpse of the program on Wednesday night, starting at 6 o'clock. The introductory Exploring meeting will take place at the Zionsville Police Department, located at 1075 Parkway Dr.

Chapman said he'd like to see the program have at least 15 to 25 students enrolled in the first year and doesn't plan on capping off the number of students in the program.

Explorers need to be between the age of 14 and 20. The cost is $50, which covers a first year fee, a uniform, insurance and the price of activities. The department said those who can't afford the fee should still consider enrolling as there are scholarships available to assist with the cost.

“They’re going to get the same information that officers receive," Chapman said about what the students will be going through. "When we talk about emergency vehicle operation, we’re going to talk about it in lecture and practice first-hand on that. They will go out and drive cars.”

Driving a police car is just a piece of the hands-on lessons the Explorers will learn about. Other lessons include:

  • Shooting at the gun range.
  • First aid safety.
  • Dive team operations.
  • The proper use of a stun gun and pepper spray.

Chapman said students in the program would need to sign a waiver and have a parent's permission to take part in some of the lessons. Explorers can even feel what it's like to be shot with a stun gun and pepper sprayed in the eyes.

Explorers will also need to have at least a 2.0 GPA, or prove they're working to improve their grades. They'll also be required to take a physical fitness test. Click here for more information.

Chapman said the hope is the program gives students valuable lessons before they head to college and become active in their public safety program on their college campus. After school, the police department can benefit if a former Explorer comes back home.

“Once they leave college they will possibly come back to our department and be a law enforcement officer here," Chapman said. "We see that in some of the other Exploring programs and then you already know a lot about the person because of the program."

Any Hoosier between 14 and 20 can sign up for the program, as long as they have reliable transportation to and from the police station.