South Miami Police Department’s Explorer Post 256 was awarded first place overall in the 2010 annual competition of South Florida Explorer Posts, hosted and sponsored by the Hialeah Police Department. The group competed against sixteen agencies from Dade and Broward Counties over a three day period to take the top position and are now preparing for the national competition being held in Atlanta in July.
“This is the first time that this Explorer Post has been awarded first place in the local competition and the group’s very first time going to nationals,” said Detective Michael Weissberg of the South Miami Police Department. “They’ve worked extremely hard for this honor.”
A grueling training and drill schedule paid off as Explorer Post 256 took first place during the competition in Crime Scene Investigations and second place honors for Domestic Violence Investigation and Drill Team. Consistently high scores in other competition mock scenarios, such as Search and Arrest Procedures, Burglary in Progress, Traffic Stops and Traffic Crash procedures, also led to the overall first place designation.
“They worked all throughout the year and then trained for 16 days straight prior to the competition,” Detective Weissberg said. “They set up their own training schedule and devoted their entire spring break and several weekends to prepare.”
Detective Weissberg, along with Detectives Joseph Mendez and Lisa King and Sergeant Jesus Aguiar of the South Miami Police Department, are the Post Advisors for Explorers Post 256 and hold weekly meetings to train the group in different aspects of police work. Like a police department, Explorers has a rank structure that is determined by seniority and performance. The esteemed group includes Major Christofer Zambrana, Captain Elba Beltran, Lieutenant Jerome Blain and Sergeants Jasmina Diaz, David Celis and Richard Perez.
Throughout the year, Explorers meet at least twice weekly for meetings and training at the South Miami Bethel/Gibson Community Center and police station. The group also assists the South Miami Police Department with security detail at many community events such as Santa’s Parade of Elves, the South Miami Rotary Art Festival and the Special Olympics.
“At our Thursday meetings, we focus on leadership and review the law and criminal procedures,” said Detective Mendez. “Then on Fridays, we set up scenarios and evaluate the team on how well they carried out the task.”
Explorers Post 256 was founded in 1981 by Perry Turner, a South Miami Police Captain at that time, and Carlos Arboleya, a prominent Miami businessman who is also the past president of the Boy Scouts of America South Florida Council and current board member of the local, regional and national boards of the Boy Scouts of America.
Chartered in the 1980s by the South Florida Council of The Boy Scouts of America and Learning for Life, Explorers are comprised of high school students who are interested in pursuing careers in law enforcement, fire service, military and other leadership professions. “Participants must attend the weekly meetings, pay charter dues, follow the rules, maintain good grades and demonstrate hard work, discipline and dedication,” commented Major Michael Mills of the South Miami Police Department.
Detective Weissberg added, “This group does all of their own fundraising to pay charter dues and attend these competitions. It’s extremely rewarding to be a part of inspiring these young men and women to be the best that they can be.”
Chris Johnson of the South Miami Police Department is an Explorer success story. He was an Explorer for three years, went on to become an advisor for the group after his high school graduation and then attended the Police Academy to become a police officer.
“We hope that out of this current group, we will have one or two future South Miami police officers,” added Detective Weissberg.
For more information on the South Miami Police Explorers Program, call 305-663-6308 or visit online at < www.smpolice.org >.