MIDLOTHIAN – Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown and Brad Norman, operations captain, were on hand Tuesday to receive a grant from the Midlothian Walmart.

Bonnie Bailey, community events coordinator for Walmart, and Matt Warren, store co-manager presented a check for $1,000 to the lawmen.

“This money will be designated toward Operation Child Safe, where we fingerprint children,” Brown said. “It will also be used in the Explorer program.”

Both programs are handled under the sheriff’s office’s Community Oriented Policing Services, Norman said.

Sheriff’s deputy Nathan Bickerstaff, who works with those programs, had submitted the application to Walmart, but was unable to attend the check presentation.

In a telephone interview with the Daily Light, Bickerstaff discussed the Explorer program.

“This program was designed as a career exposure for young people from ages 14-20,” he said. “We meet at 7 p.m. every Tuesday.”

Bickerstaff said the Explorer program, which is international in scope, includes competitions against Explorer programs in other communities. The competitions showcase the Explorers’ training in police procedures such as crime scene investigation, crime prevention presentations, building searches, working armed robberies, bomb scene and search, and drug raids.

“We usually have competitions every quarter on a Saturday that last all day and then, in the evening, we have a ceremony giving out awards to first, second and third places,” Bickerstaff said, noting that national competitions are held every other year under the auspices of the National Law Enforcement Advisors Association.

After the Explorers achieve a certain amount of training hours in first aid and CPR and attend a training class, they are eligible to participate in the sheriff’s office’s Ride Along Program, which gives them an opportunity to ride with deputies as an observer. The program is under the umbrella of the Boy Scouts of America in its Learning for Life career exposure program.

“We want to thank Walmart for being a part of our community and our county,” Brown said.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.