Young scouts train for police


Iowa City police officer Rob Cash talks with Police Explorer members inside the Iowa City Police Department substation on Oct. 28, 2015. Police Explorers is a program for high school students interested in police work and assisting with community activities and projects. (The Daily Iowan/Brooklynn Kascel)

Tom Ackerman, [email protected]

Iowa City high-schoolers are training to be police officers and first responders.

A public safety training program started last year to provide youth interested in emergency response a chance to explore their passion before they hit the academy.

“It gives [cadets] a taste of different entities within law enforcement,” said Officer Scott Gaarde, a sergeant in charge of planning and research with the Iowa City police. “It gives them a little bit of exposure into everything.”

The program rotates monthly to focus around police, fire, and ambulance training to offer a broad perspective in experience.

Post adviser Officer Rob Cash said this is realistic for training, as in many cases responders work together.

Cadets participate in training scenarios that prepare the students for what they should expect to see if they choose an emergency response career, including traffic control, crash scenes, and crime-scene investigations.

“Many of our kids have been very active, so they come to all the special events and training,” Cash said.

In addition, the students assist the community and gain experience by working with police officers while on duty. This year, the post contributed to Homecoming activities and learned the difficulties of crowd control and public safety.

“I hope to learn more about the whole emergency field,” said Tyler Barr, a senior at City High.

The group currently consists of seven members and is applying to become an Explorer Post, which would bring Iowa City into the nationwide program for teen law enforcement training.

Cash said the fees thus far have been minimal and have been assumed by the police department within the community policing fund.

“There wasn’t a whole lot [needed] for initial operation,” Cash said. “We’re still getting set up.”

When the Post is accepted into the explorer program, there will be a fee, with which the city may fund. If not, Cash said the group will fundraise as needed for the $26 per cadet.

While popular in other areas, Cash said Explorers is more wide spread in Iowa, the only close program residing in Cedar Rapids, though it is for 18-year olds and requires a greater time commitment.

“We’ve allotted this group to go up to about 20 kids, so we definitely have room for expansion,” Cash said.

Several present at a meeting Wednesday night had interest in continuing to pursue first-responder careers, though cadets and advisers offered that that wasn’t the whole point of the program.

Barr said the program is a beneficial experience to students.

“There’s a lot of activities and hands on,” he said. “It’s a fun time. You get to meet a lot of people too.”

Gaarde said students can join to enhance their resumes for college as well.

The cadets are all CPR and first aid certified, he said, offering a wealth of skills for interested students.

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