By Marisa Jolivette

At San Lorenzo High School, the Sheriff’s Explorers Program educates students interested in law enforcement by practicing the skills of law enforcement at trainings and field trips.

On weekends, participants go to places such as Santa Rita Jail, trainings at police obstacle courses, the shooting range, a simulation of pursuit, and the coroner’s office to get a grip of what people in law enforcement take on. They have trainings on forensics, filing evidence, working on boats, driving, booking prisoners and handling firearms. The Sheriff’s Explorers program occurs on other high school campuses like Castro Valley High School, Arroyo High School, and Chabot Community College.

An English teacher at San Lorenzo High School, Sayuri Shimada explained, “The Sheriff’s Explorer’s Program is a program where students attend weekly meetings and get to learn about different aspects of law enforcement by training with members of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department.”

She added, “A former sheriff, Shawn Wilson, started the Sheriff’s Explorer Program here at San Lorenzo High School.” Now Sheriff Deputy Wilson leads the Sheriffs program. Students at San Lorenzo High School from ages 16-21 can participate in the program by filling out an application and returning it to the LLC Coordinator Mrs. Shimada. Students must maintain a 2.0 grade point average, not smoke marijuana, and cannot be in trouble or have any discipline issues.

“We train as police officers and learn about law enforcement,” participant Kianna Johnson, a sophomore at San Lorenzo High School said. “It helps me get ready for law enforcement academy and give back to my community.” Students have the opportunity take the role of being security at community activities such as basketball games and promotions.

“I think it’s great for increasing awareness,” Nicole Jueng a U.S. history teacher at San Lorenzo said. “I love knowing my students have the opportunity for hands on learning like this. It bridges the gaps between the community, law enforcement, and students. I wish there were more programs like this.”

Students at San Lorenzo have their own view of the Sheriff’s Explorers Program. A junior who participated in the program, Jose Argueta, enjoyed the program because he was interested in the justice field. “You just have to come on time and volunteer for some community service activities they do,” he said. “At the end, I got 5 credits for being in the program.”

Timmy Jones, a senior at San Lorenzo High School who found out about the program from his counselor after he mentioning joining the Sheriff’s department after graduation, has found the program to be very effective.

“It gets your foot in the door and you meet a lot of people on the force,” he said. “It benefits me, by letting me work with the deputies and placing me into real life situations like you are on the force.”

As the year comes to an end participants will attend two more meetings and say their final goodbyes. Throughout the summer the Explorers will not meet for their monthly meetings but will again the next semester.

This story and the entire Education Voices series were made possible through the support of The California Endowment. Our student reporters for this series are participants in programs at The East Oakland Youth Development Center in East Oakland. Many thanks to the Endowment and the Center for the support of this program, and to our wonderful coaches, trainers and student reporters.

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