South Miami Police Explorers place sixth in state competition

By Raquel Garcia….

South Miami Police Explorers are all smiles after a victorious day. Pictured are (l-r) Major Cristopher Zambrana, Lieutenant David Celis, Explorer Kassandra Morales, Sergeant Dailin Roman, Lieutenant Richard Perez, Explorer Yessica Martin and Captain Jerome Blain.

The South Miami Police Explorer’s year of intense training paid off as the team finished in sixth place out of 31 teams at the recent 2011 Florida Association of Police Explorers State Competition, held in Orlando, Florida.

During the competition, five outstanding team members, Captain Jerome Blain, Major Cristopher Zambrana, Lieutenants Richard Perez and David Celis and Sergeant Dailin Roman, competed in eight law enforcement categories that included crisis intervention, traffic accident in progress, crime scene, search and arrest, as well as optional categories such as mountain bike course, physical agility and color guard presentation. South Miami’s team ranked second in male physical agility and color guard.

Police Explorers Post 256 advisor, Detective Joe Mendez, said, “The team’s tremendous success this year demonstrates their leadership and character. Some are dealing with very tough issues in their home life and yet despite that, they managed to consistently excel in training routines and perform tremendously by ranking sixth in the state competition, under intense pressure from the judges and other competitors.”

Although not all of the Explorers competed in the state competition, the entire 15 member team worked together, role-playing and advising one another, throughout the year. In addition, the members have logged nearly 6000 hours of community service and have received more than 10 President’s Volunteer Service Awards.

“These kids are so good. They figure out details in scenario settings that they have not even been taught,” said Mendez. “In a hypothetical burglary, there are always different twists and turns. They know how to deduce the appropriate responses in new settings that come up, even if they have not been through those specific cases in training.”

Mendez continued, “The best part of being a part of this program is the privilege of helping to shape the lives of young men and women leaders who clearly are on track to be very successful in life.”

Capt. Blain, one of the young leaders on the Police Explorers team who will be graduating this year, has placed either first or second in all of the competitions in which he competed, according to Mendez. “Everywhere I go with him, people comment on his professional demeanor,” Mendez said. “He is in charge of the drill team and color guard team that ranked second in the state competition, and now he is going off to college.”

Blain gained instrumental experience over the years while active in the Boy Scouts and Junior ROTC at Coral Gables Senior High. He attributes the training in these various programs as part of the preparation for the success he has enjoyed with the Police Explorers.

“Working with different techniques to develop leadership skills over the years, as well as working with a variety of people and behaviors has allowed me to apply principles I learned from the different programs,” said Blain. “It has been a once-in-a-lifetime experience and I think every young person should get a chance to be involved in a program like this.”

As Blain prepares to attend Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, with plans to major in Criminal Justice, he is grateful for the support he has received from his family and Det. Mendez.

“My mom is so proud of me,” said Blain. “It’s great – everywhere we go, she will tell everybody about my accomplishments with the team. Det. Mendez has been one of the most dedicated advisors I have ever worked with. He is so positive and he puts in so much personal time to help us achieve our goals. I appreciate him as a positive role model, not just for us on the team but for the community as well.”

South Miami Police Explorers Post 256 advisor Det. Joe Mendez can be reached at 305-663-6301 or via email at

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