The Michigan State Police recently expanded its Explorer Program to mentor teens and young adults interested in embarking on careers in the law enforcement field.
According to an MSP press release, the program aims to encourage those with an interest in law enforcement to pursue careers in public service and to give them greater insight into the job. “[It] allows youth ages 14–21 to experience what it’s like to be a police officer through training and mentoring by MSP troopers. Once they reach 18 years of age, there’s an opportunity to apply for a paid position as a cadet,” the agency explained.
The Explorer Program began with two posts in the Metro Detroit area and the Marshall Post, and has now expanded to include an additional six posts across the state. MSP said the posts were added to the program to combat staffing shortages and counter negative perceptions toward policing.
“We want kids to know a public service career is possible and it’s pretty awesome,” Sergeant Ashley Kierpaul with the MSP Recruiting and Selection Section said in a statement. “What they think policing is can be much different than what they actually experience in our Explorer Program.”
With the new posts, “we are now able to offer the experience to young adults around the state. They see firsthand all we have available from road patrol up to colonel,” Kierpaul added.
The agency also hopes the program will help boost recruitment down the line.
Abigail Sands, 19, just graduated from her Cadet Academy this summer after going through the program.
“My family knew I was interested in becoming a first responder, but I hadn’t figured out which area I wanted to pursue,” Sands said, per the press release. “A relative saw a flyer for the MSP Explorer Program online and shared it with me. I’ve been in since May 2021.”
To be eligible for the program, participants must be in good academic standing with a GPA above 2.5 and possess excellent moral character with no prior felony convictions.
The Explorer Program allows for flexibility between school and other responsibilities, but requires students to attend at least 70% of the meetings.
Classroom sessions are held at MSP posts once per week and focus on law-enforcement-related topics, including a variety of scenarios and exercises, such as traffic stops, with participants.
The agency also shared that leadership training and community service are included in the program.
Collin Cook, 19, who applied for the Explorer Program after his first year of college, is now a cadet at the Marshall Post. “I was involved in a criminal justice program in high school. My instructor was a trooper who became my mentor,” he said. “This program was the best way for me to put my name out there and become familiar with other troopers and the department.”
Cook hopes to join the 144th Trooper Recruit School in June 2023. “This is the perfect pipeline program,” he continued. “We are exposed to every part of the department which makes us well rounded and ready for that next step.”