Candice Anvari staff writer
All she saw were packed bags, a loaded car and an open front door as sophomore Amy Park said goodbye to her brother who was leaving for the Navy. Her brother’s departure was the push Park needed to help her realize that her real aspiration in life was to join the military, so she decided to join the BHPD Explorers Program to help her get experience for her goal in life.
The BHPD Explorers program offers students the opportunity to get hands-on experience with the Beverly Hills Police Department. Students must be between the ages of 14 and 18 to join the program. Applicants must score a 70% or higher on a test that is administered by the department. If they’re approved to join the program, they assist the police with non-hazardous tasks. They are also educated on law enforcement related areas of expertise such as patrol, traffic, investigation, forensics and dispatch.
Officer Jesse Perez believes the explorers will be able to use the skills they develop in any area of expertise they choose to follow in the future.
“The ability to participate and truly understand the behind-the-scenes aspect of public service is something that I believe our Explorers will take with them wherever they go and whatever they do in life,” Perez said. “Our motto, which is on the side of every police vehicle, ‘Police and Community Together,’ is not just a motto to us; it is the Beverly Hills way. Our city is unlike any other, where residents and businesses alike wave to police officers, thank us for our service, and engage in heartfelt and constructive conversations with us on how to keep the community safe.”
Park finds herself learning something every time she attends an event, such as police training days and testing checkpoints, that civilians normally can’t attend.
“The events help me talk to strangers and be confident in myself,” Parks said. “I feel really privileged to go to some of the events because they’re not something other people can experience. It makes me feel happy that I got into the program.”
This year, the explorers volunteered at events such as the LA Marathon, assisted with the Golden Globes, observed DUI testing, watched K9 training, participated in the Vahagn Setian Memorial Run and went on several ride-alongs with BHPD officers.
At the DUI testing event, Park did not think that, as a sophomore, she would be able to distinguish if someone was truly under the influence, but that changed once she joined the program.
“We would watch the officers at the DUI checkpoint and they taught us what to look for in the common tests,” Park said. “However, we do not test a suspect. It’s for the educational purpose only. But, I’m happy that I have the experience to be able to tell in the future. I think it can help me to have that extra experience.”
Similar to Park, junior Samatha Maybaum feels prideful to be working with such an “uplifting” group of people who push her to be better.
“I think the program has helped a lot of teens learn more about themselves and the career path they want to take,” Maybaum said. “I honestly think it’s really fun to be getting this experience now when most people our age don’t normally have this kind of experience.”
The community notices how the program affects students’ lives. Parent to a junior and a freshman, Albert Norris has seen many BHPD Explorers events take place around City Hall as he goes on his weekend walks.
“I think this program is really interesting,” Norris said. “I’ve been encouraging my daughter to join the program ever since I heard about it because it seems like such a good way to get work experience from a young age, and I want her to have that opportunity to grow as a person.”
Perez believes that the BHPD Explorers Program is an important part of our community because it helps shape the future.
“The Explorer Program is a pillar of our community, and I take a great deal of pride in teaching our youth leadership, discipline, accountability, decision-making skills, communication skills and confidence,” Perez said. “We teach our Explorers BHPD’s core values: Courage, Commitment, Honor, Integrity and Respect. I hope our Explorers learn to have an open-mind regarding things they may not be familiar with, be respectful of people’s difference of opinions, have the moral and intellectual strength to gather all the facts and make their own independent decisions prior to passing judgement without all of the details.”
Park believes the program has been significantly beneficial in preparing her for life beyond high school and she confirms that others who choose to join will receive the same benefits.
“Others need to join this program because if they don’t, they’ll be missing out on the experience it provides them with,” Park said. “I think this program has helped me learn more about myself, and it definitely helped me explore what I want to achieve in the future. I think joining the program is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made because of all the skills I’ve taken from the experience.”
Students who are interested in joining the program can fill out an application through the BHPD Explorers website.