08/19/12 — Teens try out career in law enforcement

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Teens try out career in law enforcement

By John Joyce
Published in News on August 19, 2012 1:50 AM

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Explorer Patrick Sasser, 15, right, practices a proper handcuffing technique on Brian Newsome at the Goldsboro police station. Explorer Post 209 is a branch of the national Law Enforcement Explorer Program, which seeks to give youth insight into careers in a variety of areas in law enforcement.

For many of the teens enrolled in the Goldsboro Police Explorers program, the activity is not just something to do after school.

It's an opportunity to receive training, to learn leadership and discipline and to forge a path toward college, the military or a career in law enforcement.

But for Chase Serlick, it's personal -- a tribute to his brother, James, a former Goldsboro police officer, who introduced him to the program, and then later died of leukemia.

"I definitely intend to follow in his footsteps," Chase said. "But after college, I hope to get on with the Highway Patrol."

Chase is going to pursue his dream in law enforcement with a degree in criminal justice. As inspiring as his story is, he is not alone. There at least 18 other young men and women participating weekly in Post 209, based out of Goldsboro and Wayne County. They meet weekly at 6:30 p.m. at the police department. They are uniformed, equipped with radios and accessories and taught how to do real police work.

The teens are active in the community and in the field, constantly recruiting new members from schools and local events like National Night Out, where they had a booth with flyers and give-aways.

The post represents Goldsboro in regional and national competitions and training conferences, as its members did in Fort Collins, Colo., in July. Explorer posts from all over the country assembled for a week of training scenarios, classroom lectures and competitions. They ran traffic stops, hostage scenarios and domestic dispute interventions.

The conference was near enough that when the Aurora massacre took place, the teens were able to volunteer to collect funds or the families of the victims.

"I just love the whole aspect of (Explorers). I hate to see innocent people get hurt." said Jeff Johnson, 17.

Johnson joined Post 209 after seeing his friend, Chase, on a police ride-along one night.

"He was out there doing a traffic stop and in a uniform that looked different," Johnson said. He went home and contacted Chase via Facebook. He's been with the post ever since.

"I'm going to get my degree too, then I want to go to Raleigh," he said. His love of police work and dogs has come together through Explorers, where he's gotten a chance to help with K-9 officer's dog training. He enjoys working with the dogs and watching how they operate in vehicle searches.

To be a Police Explorer, a teenager, ages 14-20, needs only to maintain C average or higher and have a clean background.

"We're always welcoming new members, young people with good moral codes," said Sgt. Trey Ball, senior adviser for the past 15 years.

"Family and church and school commitments come first, but we do want people who are going to be as active as possible," Ball said.