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     Four years ago our community elected a new Sheriff. With the new administration, came a valuable community youth engagement program called Explorer’s.

With the mission to provide a positive venue for young people of our community to explore the career of law enforcement and to enhance positive decision making skills and personal responsibility, the Explorer program is open to any county youth ages 14-21. While Cadets, as they are called, these young people receive training, experience situations law enforcement officers often deal with through mock drills, and earn ride-a-long’s to see law enforcement first hand. Additionally, these young people are exposed to life and leadership skills, personal responsibility, self-respect and cultivation of respect for others.

This program provides the community with young people who are encouraged to become engaged and invested in their own community. These Explorer Cadets attend local festivals and events providing free services in the form of event information, parking and traffic control.

To date, approximately 100 area youth have gone through this program with a current enrollment of 21. While approximately 20% of the program’s participants mature into a career in law enforcement, it is a good bet that 100% of the youth who participate are more prepared to be positive contributing members of society.

The program operates on a slim budget with most of the expense being uniforms for the Cadets and liability insurance. Funding comes from, in part, a generous donation from the Bullitt County Fiscal Court. Additional monies are in the form of private donations and fundraisers the Explorer’s staff themselves. Last summer for instance, the Explorers manned a concession stand in front of the old stone jail around the Judicial Center. If you purchased lunch, you supported the Explorer program.

Our county neighbors to the north and south, Jefferson and Hardin have enjoyed the benefits of an Explorer program for many years. My hope is this program will be valued and supported by the Sheriff’s Department for years to come, regardless of the administration. I encourage readers of The Pioneer News, when considering their vote, to consider the Explorer program.

Jeannine D. Blakeman