When Waldorf residents Justin Lloyd and Crystal Parum and Hughesville resident Jonathan Pirrone entered an apartment with a search warrant in hand, they arrested two subjects on drug trafficking charges and conducted a thorough search of the residence to collect many pieces of evidence. This wasnt a real drug raid and Lloyd, Parum and Pirrone are not police officers, but according to the judges at the National Explorers Law Enforcement Competition, one wouldnt know it by the caliber of their performance.
Lloyd, Parum and Pirrone were part of a group of six Explorers from the Charles County Sheriffs Office Explorers Post 1658 who participated in the national conference, and their performance in the drug raid earned them a national championship in the Arrest and Search team event and a score of 96 out of 100.
Explorers Reginald Forbes of Waldorf, Matthew Thompson of Bel Alton and Melanie Tyner of Mechanicsville also participated in the conference, which was held at the Georgia Institute of Technology. They participated in a bomb threat investigation, during which they responded to a business for the threat made by a former employee. The team interviewed witnesses, obtained information, evaluated the situation and conducted a search of the premises. During the event, if a suspected bomb was located, they had to evaluate it and make the proper notifications. Their score of 96 out of 100 earned them third place in the nation.
The conference is held biennially, and this year 4,000 Explorers from more than 40 states and Puerto Rico participated. There are 12 team eventstraffic stops, burglary in progress, First Aid/CPR, arrest and search, crime prevention, traffic accident, shoot or dont shoot, bomb threat investigation, hostage negotiation and white collar crimeand teams dont know until moments before the competition which events they will compete in.
"Its just like being a police officer on-duty," said Thompson. "You train for everything, not knowing what type of call you will be sent to. We had to be prepared to respond immediately to whatever situation they gave us."
In fact, the Explorers did train for a number of possible scenarios. The team practiced for eight months prior to the conference at least twice a week. The competition requires Explorers to be proficient in all areas of police work, including interviewing, search warrant service, police tactics, defensive tactics, paperwork and giving speeches on crime prevention topics.
There are also events Explorers may elect to participate in individually, including the beam hit, the emergency vehicle operations course, a sample written exam, the 9mm pistol event, the .177 air pistol event, a police mountain bike challenge and a physical fitness test. Teams may compete in a team drill competition as well.
The Charles County Sheriffs Office Explorers placed in several other events, including the "Best Uniforms" competition, in which they earned second place in the nation. Forbes, Tyner and Thompson responded to a burglary in progress, during which a homeowner believed someone was actively burglarizing the home. The team interviewed the victim, entered the building and used police tactics to confront, arrest and search the suspects. They placed in the top 10 in the nation for their performance.
Additionally, Thompson placed third in the individual 9mm rapid fire competition. The Explorers fired more than 4,000 rounds in preparation for the 9mm pistol event.
"The conference was a great experience. This is my last year in the Post and I wouldnt trade it for anything," said Thompson. "Through Explorers and this competition, I learned many valuable techniques that will help me in the future as a police officer. I learned so much and was able to compete on a national level for the first time, and to bring home three awards made it even better."
Tyner, also an aspiring police officer, concurs. "The Explorer conference was a great opportunity to meet posts from all over the nation. We met posts as far away as Hawaii," she said. "All our hard work and dedication over the past year in preparing for the conference paid off. We gave everything we had and came back with two trophies. It was a very rewarding experience and a great way to end my career as an Explorer."
Two of the Explorer advisors, Cpl. Jason Stoddard and Lisa Messenger, attended the conference with the team. The advisors trained the Explorers for the competition and attended the conference to supervise, coach and mentor the Explorers.
"The Explorers did a fantastic job at the conference and I am really proud of all of them," said Cpl. Stoddard. "The conference not only proves their skill and hard work, but it gives them a chance to have fun and meet other Explorers from around the country."
Explorers Post 1658 was created in 1986 and currently includes more than 45 Explorers. Exploring is a division of Learning for Life, which is a subsidiary of Boy Scouts, and gives young people between the ages of 14 and 20 who are interested in law enforcement the opportunity to learn about police work and acquire skills used by police officers. The Explorers participated in the 2002 conference in Flagstaff Az., where former Explorer Matthew Irby became the first person from the Charles County Sheriffs post to win an overall national championship, which he did in the pistol event. During that conference, the team brought home two Top 10 Percent in the Nation awards, one in the traffic stops event and the other in the arrest and search event.
"The Charles County Sheriffs Office Explorers Post has placed itself among the top in the nation and I am very proud of them and extremely pleased with their performance," said Sheriff Frederick E. Davis. "They are on their way to becoming professional and skilled law enforcement officers and they are already valued members of the Charles County Sheriffs Office."
The Sheriffs Office would like to thank the many citizens and businesses who helped support the Explorers participation in the conference. The Explorers raised more than $12,000 through donations from citizens and businesses.
Anyone interested in joining the Explorers post should contact Cpl. Stoddard at 301-609-3282, ext. 291 or Messenger at 301-932-3023.
PHOTO CAPTION: Six members of the Charles County Sheriffs Office Explorers Post 1658 and two of the Posts advisors attended the 2003 National Explorers Law Enforcement Competition in July and brought home several awards, including a national championship. Pictured from left to right are (back row) Explorers Melanie Tyner, Reginald Forbes, Justin Lloyd, Matthew Thompson, Jonathan Pirrone and Crystal Parum and (front row) advisors, Cpl. Jason Stoddard and Lisa Messenger.