After two weeks of mental and physical challenges, 40 young adults from five different law enforcement agencies graduated Sunday from the Central Coast Law Enforcement Explorer Acadamy at Ernest Righetti High School.
In a keynote address, Santa Barbara Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown congratulated the graduates on their achievement.
“You are stronger young men and women now than you were before you began this adventure two weeks ago,” said Brown. “I hope that you will leave here today inspired to new heights of personal achievement and a sense of purpose. Be proud of what you have accomplished, but more importantly, take from here the knowledge that you are now in a better position to help others.”
The Law Enforcement Explorer Academy is designed for young adults ages 14 to 20 interested in a career in law enforcement or related field in the criminal justice system. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office sponsors the Academy and agencies including the Guadalupe Police Department, Lompoc Police Department, Santa Barbara Police Department and the Santa Maria Police Department also sponsor Explorers.
The program offers those young adults a personal awareness of the criminal justice system through training, practical experiences, competition, and other activities.
“I’ve gotten many life lessons out of this Academy, and I have learned new tactics that I can use and share in my future career,” said Yerlin Heredia, a Santa Maria Police Dept. Explorer. “Apart from these wonderful things, I have gotten a lot stronger and more interested in other careers that are related to law enforcement and crime scenes.”
Explorer Academy Director, Senior Deputy Dave Robertson said the recruits grew tremendously over the past two weeks.
“The participants in this class have done an outstanding job. We are very proud of the hard work and effort they have put into completing this program,” said Robertson. “The Explorer Academy really tests their physical endurance and stamina, as well as their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It teaches them the principles of teamwork, dedication, and service to others.”
One Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office Explorer said it was an eye-opening experience.
“This Academy gave me and my classmate’s tools and knowledge we will need in the future,” said Sheriff Explorer, Chase Shoenfeldt.
Ronan Valadez, from the County Sheriff’s Office Post 830, received the Class Valedictorian Award and the Physical Fitness Award. Jose Blanco received the Leadership Award and Maya Panizzon the Individual Scenario Award. Henry Grant and Marco Pavico both received the Distinguished Graduate Award for Academics.