116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Home / Life
CEDAR RAPIDS - A program that allows youth to learn what it's like to be a police officer is turning 50 years old this year.
Police Explorer Post 107, advised by Cedar Rapids patrol officer Shawn Burke, has 22 members, nine of which are female. During three-hour meetings twice a month, the 16- to 20-year-old members discuss topics such as arrest and search procedures, accident investigation, bomb threat response, burglary in progress protocols, crime scene search, hostage and crisis negotiation and domestic abuse investigation.
Meetings are held twice a month for three hours each session. There are 22 members of Police Explorer Post 107, including nine women and thirteen males.
Burke, who who has been with the Cedar Rapids Police Department since October 2006, has been involved with the program since April 2010, and said participants gain more pride in their community.
'They're kind of more aware of what's going on; they're more willing to help out where help is needed; they're not afraid to get involved with different things,” he said. 'A lot of the kids I've seen grow from 16 years old to 21 years old. Five years of their life, and I've seen them mature immensely.
'I think it's a great program to be a part of, and get to know these kids, and then hopefully be a reference for them when they can get out and actually get hired in this field.”
On Monday night, during a celebration for the program, two participants, including Brandon Ivins, 19, demonstrated a response to a burglary in progress.
'Around my junior year of high school, I was kind of looking for a career field,” Ivins said. 'I didn't really have a lot of direction in life and I didn't really know what I was going to go into for schooling.”
Ivins said in November 2012, he contacted the police department, was introduced to Burke, and interviewed for the program. He now holds the title of chief explorer.
Ivins credited the program with helping him set goals and establish a direction. He will graduate in May from Kirkwood Community College with a degree in liberal arts.
'There's lessons with every meeting that we have here,” Ivins said. 'There's always a new scenario, a new approach to a certain situation that down the line is going to help you both in your career and in your personal life.”
During the program, participants receive training in a controlled environment, said Cedar Rapids Police Chief Wayne Jerman. They also go out into the field with officers, he said. 'They're exposed to a variety of skill sets, from navigating a crime scene, to handling a domestic assault/domestic abuse case to investigating burglaries and other types of crimes,” Jerman said. 'What is mostly beneficial to these young persons is this exposure that a lot of potential applicants don't receive.”
Jerman also said the program is a form of outreach for the police department that helps officers connect with young people.