In a hallway at the Oro Valley Police Station, one table shines more than the rest.
It’s where the Oro Valley Police Department Explorers — youth participants in the Boy Scouts of America law enforcement Exploring program — display their numerous trophies and medals from competitions.
This summer, the OVPD Explorers captured 11 more awards, including three first-place trophies, at a regional competition in Gunnison, Colo. Additionally, the group received three second-place trophies, a third, and four medals.
More than 200 young people from 40 teams participated in the competition, coming from California, Texas, Colorado, Arizona and Wyoming. “Even on a team event, if you’re given an award it’s pretty significant,” said Officer Shawn Benjamin, an Explorer adviser and school resource officer.
The competition tested practical and tactical skills of police work, some of which the OVPD Explorers were trained in, others which were entirely new. These skills included law enforcement scenarios, the proper way to report and conduct a traffic stop violation, all the way to kidnappings and homicide investigations.
“They went into a competition they hadn’t been trained in and excelled. It showed that our Explorers can think on their feet,” Benjamin said.
The OVPD Exploring program has been around for several years. “Three years ago is when it really took off,” said Danny Sharp Jr., captain of the Explorers and son of OVPD Chief Danny Sharp.
The Colorado competition tested the Explorers’ mental and physical abilities in the world of law enforcement. It was “eye-opening,” Sharp said.
“They had to come down from the adrenaline of running and pointing guns to actually talking to people who were in at-risk situations such as suicidal,” Benjamin said.
“It was our first time at this competition, we went with no expectations, and we did better than we’ve ever done,” said school resource officer Kevin Mattocks, who also advises the Explorers.
The OVPD Explorers, ages 14 to 20, meet from 5 to 7 p.m. Mondays at the Oro Valley Police Station. For more information call 401-8399 or 401-8446.