Cranston students pick up law enforcement skills during Explorers Program

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Four members of the Cranston Police Department’s new Explorers Program were among 35 cadets who recently graduated from the Rhode Island Law Enforcement Explorer Academy under a sparkling sun that blanketed Camp Varnum in Narragansett.

Cadets Genesis Aldana, Sofia Calderon, Eric Testa and Jesahias Quiroa, all students at Cranston High School East, became the first-ever Post 402 Explorers to attend as well as graduate from the high-level academy.

“The Academy was a great experience for four chosen Cranston Explorers,” said Inspector Robert Santagata, who is assigned to the CPD’s Traffic Unit. “They got a little taste of what the police academy is like, what we as police go through as far as training before we even hit the streets.”

Santagata, who was on hand during the intense week-long camp, heaped words of praise upon the Training Academy, Director Lt. Patrick McMahon of the Charlestown Police department and, more importantly, “the level of commitment of the Explorer staff, as it was my first experience at the camp.”

The CPD Explorers, as well as the other 31 graduates who represented police departments from all over Rhode Island, learned many valuable lessons prior to receiving their graduation certificates during a military-like ceremony.

“All the Explorers learned discipline and team-building skills,” Santagata said. “As a Cranston Police officer, it was great to be able to give back to the youth of the city and give them a taste of what it’s like to be a police officer. I also think it is important for the youth to have as many positive interactions with the police as possible.”

Santagata also emphasized, “I am very proud of the four Explorers that graduated from the Academy; they worked very, very hard and earned it. I look forward to this year’s class of Cranston Police Explorers, and we are hoping to double the amount of cadets we send to this academy in 2018.”

McMahon, who formerly assisted Johnston PD Major Mark Boisvert at the Academy before assuming the directorship, said, “This was another great Explorer Academy at Camp Varnum. The weather was perfect all week, and once again the Explorers rose to the challenge to complete a number of tasks.”

They did so, as Santagata and officers from a number of police departments throughout Rhode Island will attest “in a number of difficult areas that the instructors could come up with like completing an obstacle course, criminal law and handcuffing classes and even building searches.”

The 35-member class of 2017 also shined, as McMahon informed proud parents and family members who attended the Training Academy graduation, “in specialized areas such as DUI and K-9 classes and visiting the highly-regarded University of Rhode Island Crime Lab.

The entire Explorer unit also had an opportunity to meet with and listen to an FBI agent who has been involved in several high-level investigations leading to the arrests of known terrorists. They also took in a demonstration by the RI State Bomb Squad that ranged from checking out the bomb robot and even trying bomb technician suits.

“This program runs on a 24-hour basis for the seven days we are here,” McMahon told the graduation audience. “We tried our best to make sure they each enjoyed their week while also instilling the values of teamwork, commitment, respect, dedication, compassion and safety.”

Each of the seven days began with a 5 a.m. wake-up call and physical training with lights out at 9 p.m.

However, as McMahon told parents and friends of the 35 Explorers, “While discipline was certainly instilled, there were times when they also had just a small amount of fun; a few hours at the beach, a bonfire by the waterfront where they learned how to make banana s’mores and they even climbed the Army’s Rock Wall.”

Like other Explorers Posts, the WPD-sponsored program is an arm of the Narragansett Council, Boy Scouts of America, and designed to introduce young men and women between the ages of 14 and 20 to all phases of police work and those who are already interested in pursuing law a career in law enforcement. Parents who would like further information should call Santagata at 477-5084 or via e-mail at rsantagate@cranstonpoliceri.com.

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