Law enforcement program aids students for future careers


Senior Anthony Fiorini peaks around a corner during a room clearing activity.

Hannah Kopek, Co-Editor-in-Chief

  In addition to working inside all of the Plainfield High Schools, conducting traffic stops, and keeping the community safe, the Plainfield Police Department (PPD) leads a chapter of Law Enforcement Explorers. The group of 14 to 21-year olds meet weekly to learn more about careers in law enforcement and skills for the job.
“We train with the police officers from Plainfield Police Department,” Abby Kieca, senior, said. “We work on different scenarios and different police tactics. It trains us for a future in law enforcement.”
The group trains for all situations, from day to day police work to town wide emergencies.
“We do PT (physical training), marching, hostage negotiation, bomb searches, and full out scenarios with a command post,” Officer Marty Van Heeswijk, advisor, said. “They
learn how to triage people, and CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation). We also teach them how to shoot, and weapons safety, and how to take guns apart, and most importantly how to stay safe.”
Some members use the group to help decide their career path after high school.
“I joined explorers to learn more about what my dad had to do almost every day for 25 years, and to learn about a possible career choice for me,” Toby Lister, senior, said.
The program offers a variety of activities that will benefit those who choose to have a career related to law enforcement.
“We let the kids participate in everything,” Van Heeswijk, said. “We teach them exactly what police do. When they go on a ride-along, they get to call out and clear the traffic stops and run the plates on the computers. They get a real feel of what it’s [police work] is like.”
The post also gives its members the opportunity to gain ranks and work on their leadership skills. Senior Andrea Villacana has been with the post for two and a half years. In that time, she has worked her way up the ladder and earned a leadership position within the post.
“I’m a sergeant in the post,” Villiacana said. “I have to get out information to them that comes from higher up, I have to make sure everyone has all of their stuff and help them out if there’s anything they’re unsure of.”
Every summer, the post competes at a state and a national competition.
“They are scenario based, so everything they learn here they take with them. One of the scenarios could be crime scene investigation, so they would have to go in and process evidence,” Van Heeswijk said. “At our last competition, we took home 11 trophies. . At the state competition, there are about 400 kids competing against one another, and when you go to nationals, there are about 4,000 kids competing. We got first place there in crime scenes.”
Anyone interested in the explorers is encouraged to apply to join.
“Give it a try,” Villicana said. “You don’t necessarily need to want to work in law enforcement, but it’s a good way to know if you do.”