At many community events in Puyallup, they’re there — behind the scenes, helping officers make sure everyone is safe.
They’re members of the Puyallup Police Department’s Explorer Program, which is open to young men and women between the ages of 14 and 20 who are interested in learning more about careers in law enforcement.
“It’s a way for them to learn about and explore being a police officer,” said Puyallup Police Department Capt. Scott Engle, who is involved with the program.
Along with training in leadership skills, handling equipment, proper emergency responses and participation in ride-alongs, a big part of that program is being involved with the community.
“You see the Explorers at a number of different events throughout the year,” said Pete Bristow, president of the Puyallup Kiwanis Foundation.
Those events include the Daffodil Festival Parade, National Night Out, Chief for a Day and Meeker Days.
This month, the foundation approved a $3,000 donation to the Explorer Program. In a big way, it was a sign of appreciation for what the members do for the community.
A lot of these young people are trying to go to school and work and do sports and do Explorers. It shows them that the community supports them.
Scott Engle, Puyallup Police Department
“A lot of these young people are trying to go to school and work and do sports and do Explorers,” said Engle, who is also a member of Puyallup Kiwanis. “It shows them that the community supports them.”
Puyallup Kiwanis has a history of supporting youth in the community — in fact, it’s one of its main goals.
“A lot of what we fund is in support of youth,” Bristow said. “Most of our scholarships include a community service component.”
The Puyallup Kiwanis Foundation is headed by 15 Kiwanis members. Every year, it gives out thousands in support of community organizations and local students. In one of its biggest projects, the Kiwanis group helped create the Kids Spray Park at the downtown Pioneer Park Pavilion.
There are currently around 25 students and six advisors in the Puyallup Police Explorer Post No. 530, which meets every Thursday at the Puyallup Police Department. Each member pays for their own uniform as part of the team. The $3,000 Kiwanis donation will go toward getting new jackets for them.
The Explorers buy everything when they join. It’s just awesome Kiwanis was able to step up. It helped a lot.
“The Explorers buy everything when they join,” Engle said, which includes the uniform jackets. “(They are) heavy jackets that (members) can wear out and about in the community. It’s just awesome Kiwanis was able to step up. It helped a lot.”
Now, students with the Explorer Program continue to help the community at local events, preparing themselves to be the future faces of law enforcement.
“The biggest benefit of the Explorer Program is the connection between police officers and young people in the community,” Engle said. “It’s a positive way for us to interact with (them). We are building citizenship in young people.”