Exploring for the future

While the City of Minot and Minot Public Schools continue to work out a way to put police officers onto area campuses, the Minot Police Department and Boy Scouts of America have been putting students into squad cars through the Learning for Life Explorer program.

“Learning for Life is a character-building and educational program,” which local BSA district executive Kevin Mehrer also explained is a Scouts subsidiary that primarily teams up with schools for clubs such as the Explorers.

What the Explorer program does is connect students with professionals in a particular field. “In this case, it’s law enforcement,” Mehrer said.

“We’re slowly making it more known,” said Officer Jared Foley, post adviser and founding member of Minot’s program. By now in its second year, the post has about 19 students involved. “Last year at this time I think we only had 10 or 11,” Foley figured.

“We meet every other Sunday,” the officer said. At such meetings, attendees might review the docket from the previous night, discussing how they might have best addressed those scenarios if they had been on the beat.

“The focus is to get them familiar with a career,” said Foley, as well as to familiarize kids with law enforcement personnel, to show “We’re people, too.”

To that end, Explorers will shadow officers on the job, learn techniques with mock equipment and study regulations. “They know the 10-codes,” said Mehrer, the numeric system by which dispatchers and officers refer to incidents in progress. Police officers take the students through the various procedures of their job, from fingerprinting, handcuffing and interrogations to making controlled traffic stops.

“What junior, senior, or sophomore in high school gets that kind of opportunity?” Mehrer asked.

Additionally, presentations are delivered for the group’s benefit. At the previous weekend’s meeting Explorers were introduced to negotiations; the meeting before that, assistant state- and county-level attorneys explained the legal side of policing.

Voluntary service and learning responsibility are other aspects of the program, Foley said, recounting that club members helped make phone book deliveries earlier on in the fall.

To be successful, Mehrer explained that a group like this needs to incorporate hands-on experiences with volunteering opportunities. “That keeps them intrigued.” Also key to the success of an Explorer program is having “excited, trained, fun leaders,” professionals who can engage teens’ imaginations and perhaps give them a skill set to focus on as their education progresses.

“It’s a mentoring program, to help mentor kids into these programs,” explained Steve Beutler, an adviser to the Explorers’ law enforcement program and career counselor for Minot Public Schools. “After we got it rolling they asked me to stay involved.”

“Steve is a great advocate for letting kids know what’s beyond high school,” Mehrer said. Between Foley, himself and Beutler, and with the active assistance of the police department and other law professionals, he feels that they have a good program going.

Looking at it from the police department’s perspective, Beutler said the mentoring program is also “a way to grow their own,” getting local youths interested early on in pursuing a local profession. “We want our kids to stay here. I see this as a great opportunity to ‘grow our own’ in the community,” he said. “I think it’s a win-win for everyone.”

Those in other fields would agree, with Trinity Health starting up its own medically-focused Explorers program, and engineering firm Ackerman-Estvold already into the second month of its own.

“We are looking at starting more, and in varied areas,” said Mehrer.

For prospective program patrons, a course in youth protection and the necessary background checks can be expected. Firms, agencies or businesses interested in perhaps fostering an enthusiasm for their professions can contact Mehrer for more information, by phone at 839-2260 or email at kmehrer@bsamail.org.

“Just give me a call, absolutely.”

Minot Area Explorer Post #9472 will be holding its next meeting on Sunday, Nov. 17, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Minot Police Department offices, kicking off the first of three meetings to revolve around tactical operations and “room clearing” procedures. Teens interested in the program can contact Officer Foley by email at jared.foley@minotnd.org, or by asking for his desk at