BHPD Explorers Graduate South Bay Regional Explorer Academy

On June 1, three Beverly Hills Explorers graduated from the South Bay Regional Explorer Academy, an intense 12-week-long training program that simulates the police academy for high school students. Peter Shabani, 14, Kate Fuerte, 15 and Isadora Cardoso, 15 are the first to complete the rigorous boot camp that is now a requirement for those who want to become Beverly Hills Police Explorers. The completion of the academy represents hours of physical training, discipline and academic achievement.

The Police Explorer program, a volunteer-based program for Beverly Hills teens to assist police officers in non-hazardous duties, was started in 2004. It prepares young members of the community with tools to succeed, wherever their careers may take them. Requirements to take part in the program include maintaining at least a 2.0 grade point average, no previous arrests or convictions and no physical handicaps that could jeopardize their safety.

“We realized that we know we want to give an even better exposure to the world of law enforcement and a high-stress environment that sometimes we can’t replicate here at the police department on a daily basis,” BHPD Sergeant Jeffrey Newman told the Courier. The department pays for the academy so that the explorers can excel in their duties within the program. “It also gives kind of a stepping stone for the kids when they get a chance to earn their uniform, when they get a chance to earn their badge. And we see that they’re way more dedicated to our program when we just ask them to do something like this,” he continued.

Shabani explained that the program entailed around 11 hours once a week for 12 weeks. He arrived at the boot camp in Torrance at 6:05 a.m. each Saturday and left between 5 p.m. and 5:15 p.m. Throughout each day of the academy, explorers were required to stay focused, follow specific commands from drill instructors and could be asked to complete a round of push-ups at any given time. They sat in lectures, did homework assignments, partook in physical training and learned to work as a team. The days were long as he recalls but worth it. “The hardest part I think was learning how to work as one big team, especially when marching and being able to help each other out just making sure that their uniform is up to par after the bathroom breaks and stuff like that, just learning to be watching each other’s back,” he told the Courier.

Outside of the academy, the Explorers had to complete homework for lectures, study for tests and learn police codes. They were also enrolled as full-time high school students during the process. 

“It was hard to keep up with school because we had to put effort into the academy during the week as well,” Cardoso told the Courier. “We had to learn codes, study for tests and mostly complete the notebook. During school, it was hard to learn and focus on it because I was thinking about the codes, the academy, and how well I would perform the following Saturday.” Though it was a difficult semester, she is thankful that the program provided her with skills and friendships that she says will last a lifetime.

As graduates of the academy, all three teens are now able to help the Beverly Hills Police Department as a full-fledged Police Explorer. This means they can assist BHPD in maintaining safety at events such as the Golden Globes or the LA Marathon along with other duties. With the increased training, Newman hopes to expand the program so that explorers can be even more involved. In the future, he would like to see them participate in ride-alongs, or even sit-alongs, where they sit with a dispatcher in a vehicle and get to know the realities of police work.

Not all of the Explorers are set on becoming full-time police officers in the future. Fuente is interested in learning new skills that may help her wherever she decides to go. “The academy has changed me both mentally and physically,” she told the Courier. “I’ve gotten more confident and stronger. I’ve also gained knowledge about law enforcement that not a lot of other teenagers know about. I am eternally grateful for the skills and knowledge that the academy has left me with.” 

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