Village recognizes youth working with Union County Sheriff’s Office
Youth serving the community through law enforcement recently received public accolades from the Village of Wesley Chapel.
On Oct. 15, the village safety committee presented a plaque to the Union County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 242 in recognition of the post’s service to the community.
The Explorer Post consists of young people age 14 to 20-years-old who have a desire to pursue a career in law enforcement or are interested in learning more about the field. The sheriff’s office reestablished the post in 2007 and has an average of 20 members in the post at a time.
Participants take part in a variety of training exercises, including first aid training, CPR certification, training on basic criminal laws, learning the 10 codes system, and training on fingerprinting. They are required to attend 10 monthly training meetings per year.
The Explorers also have the opportunity to get involved in many different community service events and projects. Participants get to use their training on fingerprinting to help with child identification kits. Explorers also provide traffic assistance for special events and promote safety through inspecting bikes at bicycle rodeos. Once certain requirements are met, participants can accompany an officer for an on-duty ride-along.
Deputy A.J. Mainero is the host advisor for the Explorer Post and oversees the program, including recruiting, scheduling, and working events. During his time with the Explorer Post, Mainero has seen a handful of participants continue into the law enforcement field.
“We have two Explorers that are now in law enforcement training,” Mainero said.
Sergeant Kara Bush intends to someday add her name to the list of Explorer Post alumni with jobs in law enforcement. The 15-year-old Central Academy of Technology and Arts sophomore has worked with the Union County Sheriff’s Department since the eighth grade. Because the Explorer Post program requires that participants graduate eighth grade before enrolling, Bush started as part of the Cadet program, designed for ages 11 to 14.
The Explorer Post helped Bush become more familiar with the law enforcement system, and the training helped better prepare her for her career goal.
“From the time I was about 8 or 9, I wanted to go into law enforcement. I’ve learned things I never knew about until I started (the Explorer Post),” Bush said.
Mainero believes that the most important aspect of the Explorer Post is that it offers students an opportunity to serve their community through teamwork. “We really, really stress teamwork and see that everybody works together,” he said.
Community officials are recognizing the Explorers’ hard work and service. “The Explorers group is important to the Wesley Chapel community, not only for the volunteer work they provide when they are assisting with events or fingerprinting our children, but because they are walking examples of leadership and commitment,” Wesley Chapel council member Kim Ormiston said.
For Bush, who wants to eventually pursue a career with the FBI, that type of leadership and commitment comes second-nature with a love of serving the community through police work.
“I love doing what I do,” she said. “I do it because it’s what I enjoy doing. I cannot think of a better way to spend a Saturday than out in the community with the deputies doing something productive.”