Teamwork and sportsmanship were on display in Lake Jackson, Texas, this weekend at a police Explorer competition.

Members of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office’s Explorer program took home three trophies – but the team showed that supporting competitors to do their best is just as important.

“Father, we ask that you give these young men the wisdom and insight to perform to the best of their ability. We just ask that they stay encouraged today and be not disappointed and to take faith and they believe and accomplish anything that they set their minds to do,” Ellis County deputy Nathan Bickerstaff said in a prayer prior to the competition.

“You said that we can do all things through Christ Jesus. Lord, we pray that they keep that in the front of their mind today that nothing is impossible for them to achieve today. They can achieve the greatest goal – they just have to set the height,” he said.

The team took home three third place wins in bike patrol, agility and active shooter scenarios. Forty-three teams from across the state were at the competition. The Explorer program introduces youth to law enforcement by teaching them what the officers do in the field through education and training. The training and knowledge they receive allows them to compete against different groups and helps foster an interest in law enforcement as a career.

“I’m very proud of them. This is their first competition together and this is a new group. I would have never thought we would have one anything in bicycling. They rode better than some of the ones who have that in their program. Very proud of them and proud of the advisors,” Sheriff Johnny Brown said.

“When the members of the other team started to have problems and my guys started cheering them on – that made me prouder than all of the trophies. The team spirit that they had to cheer another team on was outstanding.”

At Saturday’s competition, seven Explorers were divided into two teams with both competing in different scenarios at the same time. One of the tests was on agility and involved such tasks as running, push ups, carrying a person, shooting a basket and jumping rope. After the agility test was a misdemeanor traffic stop scenario.

“What they did was a normal routine misdemeanor traffic stop that you make every day for simple violations such as speeding, anything other than a serious offense. The person they stopped had a warrant but they (dispatch) would not confirm it. What that means is that the agency that has the warrant did not want to have them arrested. According to the advisor that scored the event they did a really good job,” Ellis County sheriff’s Sgt. Matt Murrey said.

“The way we normally do it is that one person will make the contact and the other person will stand there and observe. If he sees something he will communicate that to the officer and whether to take cover,” he said.

Another scenario was for a felony traffic stop, which involved a vehicle that had some stolen merchandise. The Explorers worked by shouting verbal commands to the suspects in the vehicle to get out.

The Explorers also worked through a scenario involving a shooter inside a school. The start of the scenario was signaled by the sound of two shots coming from down the hallway. A team of four Explorers worked their way down the hall, checking everything they passed along the way until they made contact with a person with a gun.

“They used the procedures to safely take the suspect into custody while the others covered their backside,” Murrey said. “After he was taken into custody, they finished clearing the rest of the building and took someone else into custody that was a non-combative, who was most likely a student or teacher. They seemed to do very well (with the scenario).” 

Explorers also were tested on how to address a bomb threat called into a building, a domestic disturbance and how to ride and stop someone while patrolling on a police bike.

As recognition for a job well done, members of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office provided the agency’s Explorers with an escort upon their arrival back in Waxahachie. The Explorers said they wanted to thank Chris Cole of Soundbridge for providing a bus for the trip.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1458.