MUNROE FALLS: At the Munroe Falls City Council meeting this week eight teens wearing black pants and tan shirts raised their right hands and swore to uphold the Constitution and the laws of the city and state.
A patch on their shirts identified them as police explorers.
Munroe Falls Police Chief Tom Pozza looked on proudly.
“You are looking at the future of law enforcement.” he said.
The Law Enforcement Career Exploring program is one of many programs Pozza is promoting to engage the community and create a pool of police and reserve officer candidates.
It is a joint venture with Stow and Tallmadge.
The inaugural class of nine, one was absent from the ceremony, will go through police officer training classes and learn police protocols.
The program is for those aged 14 to 20 who are considering a career in law enforcement, Pozza said.
Explorers Jenn Deaton, 17, and John Labosky, 14, are from Tallmadge. Deaton is the recipient of this year’s Joshua Miktarian Memorial Scholarship.
“My ultimate goal is to be a K-9 officer,” Deaton said.
Labosky wants to be a police officer to keep people safe. He said he can’t see himself doing anything else.
“I feel good about it now,” Labosky said. “As I learn more, I want to see if I really want to do it.”
In September, four communities will join to offer a similar program to teach adults about policing.
The Munroe Falls, Tallmadge, Cuyahoga Falls and Stow Citizens Academy begins Sept. 10 and runs for 12 weeks. Officer Jim Owens will oversee the academy.
“It’s a mini police academy, without the physical training,” Owens said.
Pozza said the idea is to give citizens a sample of what officers go through on a daily basis.
The cost is $60. Preference will be given to those who live in the four sponsoring cities.
Those who graduate from the citizens academy can apply to become a volunteer reserve officer.
“The explorers and citizens academy feed into the reserves,” Pozza said. “And if we need regular officers, we’ll look at that pool.”
Pozza has reinstituted bike patrols, but without officers dedicated to that beat.
“Any officer can take out a bike,” Pozza said.
Riding through the neighborhoods and parks is less intimidating to residents, he said.
“The more comfortable they are with us, the more likely they are to call us when they see something happening,” Pozza said.