Sara Klaes has always known what she wanted to do. As a child, she showed an early interest in law enforcement and dreamed of becoming a police officer. Now an officer with the Plymouth Police Department, her dream has been a reality since 2013, but she started with the department all the way back
in 2007—when she was just a sophomore in high school.
Thanks to Plymouth’s Police Explorers program, Klaes gained an in-depth, first-hand look into what it actually took to be a police officer, solidifying her interest and giving her valuable experience in the field, all before she left for college. And now, she’s come full circle, leading future generations of police officers through the exact same program.
If your teenager is considering a career in law enforcement, they’re in luck, as the Plymouth Police Explorers program is currently accepting applications for the 2017–2018 school year. The idea behind the program is simple: “It offers a hands-on introduction to a career in law enforcement for young people ages 14–20,” says Jackie Maas, volunteer coordinator for the City of Plymouth. “They’ll learn all these really interesting skills and particular aspects of law enforcement, and that will help them determine if this is something they want to continue on and receive professional training for.”
During the school year, Explorers commit to weekly meetings where they receive both classroom and practical skills training. From conducting traffic stops to making arrests to intervening in hostage situations, they receive not only instruction, but also first-hand experience in the responsibilities, challenges and skills of being a police officer.
They also assist with various community events and participate in competitions with other Explorer groups across the region, state and country. Although the Police Explorers program isn’t unique to Plymouth, it is one of the best of its kind. Last year, the team returned from the national competition in Arizona with two first place trophies: one in search and arrest and the other in traffic stops.
Officer Klaes can attest to the benefits of Police Explorers. “I think the biggest thing that the program did for me was give me confidence, especially to speak in front of people and work with the general public.” By the time she graduated college, she already had first-hand experience performing many of the essential functions of a police officer. “I knew I was comfortable going to arrest somebody or getting into a verbal confrontation with somebody and trying to de-escalate the situation or handle things like that,” she says.
Interested in the Police Explorers?
The selection process involves filling out an application by August 1, an interview with members of the police department and a criminal background check. Applicants cannot have a criminal record or more than two driving violations.