Brunswick police adding student Explorer program

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BRUNSWICK — The Police Department will establish an Explorer Post next month for students interested in careers in law enforcement.

“The ultimate goal for the explorers is to get a taste of what the career is like,” Cmdr. Mark Waltz said last week of the program, which will allow young adults the hands-on opportunity to learn about police work.

Not only that, program co-leader Officer Kerry Wolongovicz added, “it teaches responsibility and teamwork” among participants, who will form squads and graduate through ranks of leadership modeled on a typical department.

An informational session at the department will take place at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 30. 

The program – part of a national network with outposts across the country, including Saco and Auburn – is open to students age 14-20 who meet a minimum GPA requirement, and is not limited to Brunswick residents.

There is no cost to enroll, although Waltz said a small registration fee will be required to pay for a background check. Program sessions will take place outside of school hours, likely on alternating Sunday afternoons, he said.

Wolongevicz, who joined the force last October and will co-lead Brunswick’s post with Detective Tom Stanton, oversaw an Explorer Post at her former department in Manlius, New York.

“In general, I think police are sort of mysterious to the public,” she said.

But she said she witnessed the program’s mix of classroom instruction, hands-on training, and behind-the-scenes exposure to the department strengthen the participants’ and the community’s understanding of how a police force works.

It was fun, too.

Ride-alongs, criminal law, target practice, and scenario training – where explorers respond to a simulated 911 call – were popular among explorers at her former post, Wologevicz said.

But a rising sense of confidence, she repeatedly stated, was the overwhelming take-away she’s observed from her explorers.

Wolongevicz is still in touch with some of them, and she reported many graduates of the program credit it with providing the structure, mentoring, and values that helped them through difficult adolescent years.

In addition to providing a service to area students, Waltz said he hopes the program will stimulate interest in a career in law enforcement among students.

Mirroring trends across the state, Brunswick has struggled to recruit police officers in recent years, and the department is down four police officers.

While it has two officers enrolled in the state police academy, Waltz said the force will be hiring continually over the next several years to replace about half a dozen officers who will likely retire.

The department’s internship program has successfully funneled area students to the department in the past, and Waltz said he hopes the explorer post could do the same.

A start date for the program has yet to be decided, but Wolongevicz said, “We’re hoping to get started as soon as possible” – mostly likely by the end of May.

Callie Ferguson can be reached at 781-3661, ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net. Follow Callie on Twitter: @calliecferguson.

Brunswick Police Officers Kerry Wolongevicz and Tom Stanton will establish an Explorer Post next month for area students interested in a career in law enforcement.

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Reporting on municipal, school, and community news in Brunswick and Harpswell. Bowdoin graduate, Wild Oats sandwich-eater. Callie can be reached at 207-781-3661 ext. 100, or cferguson@theforecaster.net.