Seven local high school students are participating in the Saugerties Police Department’s Explorer program, designed to give young people a firsthand look at what’s like to be a police officer.
“Programs like this take a more focused approach to specialties such as police, EMT and fire than traditional scout programs do,” said Paul Van Der Kroik of the program’s Mohegan District, who presented police with a certificate making the Saugerties Explorer program an official part of the Boy Scouts of America.
This program is co-ed; the inaugural Saugerties class has four boys and three girls.
A number of years ago, the big catch phrase for police departments was “community policing,” which stressed bike and foot patrols and outreach programs.
“This community-orientated policing worked, but over time departments got away from it,” said Sinagra. “Well, we’re bringing community policing back, and the Explorer program is one way. And as the Explorer program grows, we are hoping that it eventually will be a possible recruiting program for the police department.”
In addition to Sinagra, officers Jorge Castagnola and Cory Tome are administering the program. Both of them went through the last local Explorer program, which was run by the Town of Ulster Police Department over ten years ago. Also helping administer the program, Officer Larissa Winkler, administrative aide Mary Monaco, Lt. Kenneth Swart, Cpt. Stephen Filak, and Det. Courtney Loertscher.
During the program, the cadets will learn what it takes to be a police officer, from how to dress their uniform to traffic and criminal laws.
Recently they were taught how to spit-shine their boots by former police officer and veteran Kenneth Swart Sr.
Police are basically a paramilitary unit, Castagnola explained at a recent meeting, and as such follow military uniform requirements.
Attention to the detail of their uniforms, from shining their boots to making sure there are no hanging threads on their uniforms, will develop the attentiveness and respect for procedure necessary for interacting with suspects and investigating crimes.
Students who enrolled in the program enthusiastically followed the commands, and were eager to learn what it’s like to be a cop.
Isaac Kosinski said he joined up “because I want to be a police officer when I grow up.”
Sisters Rebecca and Samantha Salinas, Girl Scouts, said when they heard about the program they thought it would be “a good learning experience.”
“We want to help people,” Samantha said.