Law enforcement explorers from around the state were sworn in Saturday as honorary deputies at the historic Ellis County Courthouse by Sheriff Johnny Brown.

The explorers took part in the first “Attention All Units” extreme exploring competition that was held in and around Waxahachie.

The competition was opened up with a prayer by sheriff’s office chaplain Bruce Stayments.

“Father, we thank you for this opportunity to come together to train, rehearse and to practice. God, we ask your blessing on this day and I thank you for every person here,” he said. “I pray a blessing for every young life here that endeavors to enter into this profession of law enforcement. We pray God that nothing would hinder them from entering this profession. I thank you, God, for placing vision and dreams in their heart of one day becoming a police officer.

“We thank you, God, that we live in this country, this United States of America, where there is rule of law,” he said. “Thank you, God, for those that have gone before and helped maintain that. Thank you for the officers that are here today that are presently maintaining that in our communities. So, God, we ask a blessing on today. We ask for safety for everyone that is here during this event and as they travel back home.”

Brown thanked everyone for their hard work and preparation of putting on the event. He then thanked the explorer posts for taking part. After giving the explorers the oath of honorary deputy sheriff, he asked them to show good sportsmanship while competing. 

Eleven teams competed in 10 events. The National Guard Armory on Grand Street served as the Sheriff’s Sub Station for the day where everything operated out of along with a dispatch center for the event.

Each team was required to bring a uniformed peace officer who drove a marked patrol vehicle from their agency to take the explorers to simulated calls dispatched through the radio.

Calls took place at actual locations such as businesses, model home or apartment that were prearranged for use with the permission of the property owner. Once at the call, the explorers took over and used their training to determine what the situation was and the action needed.

Calls included burglary in progress, domestic disturbance, call for police, crime scene investigation, felony traffic stop, misdemeanor traffic stop, police firearms simulator, accident investigation and arrest search and seizure.

“I think that your resources here are great and I think that makes the event so much better. Everyone has done simulation training to a certain extent. With the different buildings you have to go to, to do the scenarios at, in general is good,” Dallas Police Department post advisor and officer Andre Cloyd said.

“We are going to be implementing some of the things that we have learned here into what we do,” he said. “I’m sure that things will get better in time but I’m very impressed especially with this being the first time. We will definitely be back. The first time here is better than some places I have been.”

Explorer posts that participated in Saturday’s event were the Arlington Police Department, Corpus Christi Police Department, Dallas Police Department, Harris County Constable, Irving Police Department, Lake Jackson Police Department, Plano Police Department, Red Oak Police Department and the Waxahachie Police Department.

Lake Jackson explorer Lt. Travis Pate said Saturday’s event was “very challenging” because of having to navigate from call to call using a map.

Trophies were awarded to the Dallas Police Department for first place, Arlington Police Department for second place and the Corpus Christi Police Department for third place for overall event score. An individual trophy was awarded to Ricardo Hernandez of the Dallas Police Department explorer post for police firearms simulator event.

Red Oak Police Department advisor and Sgt. Jim Langham said Saturday’s event provided a unique learning opportunity for his explorers to take part in. He said the calls that were simulated in the scenarios were “very realistic” and his post will be back.

The capstone took place on the campus of Navarro College. Explorers were given an all units call to respond to the campus, where a mock shooting was staged. The teams were organized into who would make entry into the building first, who would handle the perimeter, traffic control and first aid to people who had been injured. To make the scene more realistic, CareFlite brought in a medical helicopter, which landed in the parking lot. Hollywood type special effects were used at the scene, including having actors with simulated gunshot wounds portray victims.

Waxahachie post advisor and Officer Wess Winn said Saturday’s event was well thought out and planned. Winn said that watching his explorers taking part in the event also had him thinking about what he would as an officer if placed in that situation. His team had a great time taking part and looks forward to what next year has in store, he said.

Ellis County Sheriff’s Office post advisor and Sgt. Matt Murrey said he wanted to say thanks to the National Guard for the use of its facility, the administration and staff of the sheriff’s office, parents of the explorers who have put in time helping and agencies from in and outside of the county that came together to make this a success.

For more information about the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Exploring program, contact Murrey at 972-825-4946.

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