L ong before he became Washington County’s sheriff, Jeff Murphy was a member of the sheriff’s office’s Law Enforcement Explorers program.
“I was a member when I was in high school in Hudson Falls, and some of the guys I was in it with are people I still work with today,” said Murphy, who has been sheriff for six months and is restarting the Explorers program.
“We’re looking for kids who are interested in law enforcement who might not otherwise have an opportunity like this,” Murphy said. “Once we get them trained, we can use them to help at the county fair, to assist with senior citizens and for other duties.”
More importantly, he said, it will give boys and girls from 14 to 20 years old a chance to work directly with the sheriff’s office and have positive contacts with law enforcement.
“That’s one of the things we are always looking for, to connect with them before there are any issues or to connect with the kids we don’t see in the line of duty,” Murphy said. “This will be a great opportunity for them and a great opportunity for us.”
Murphy said he had an excellent response from his staff. Deputy Scott Stark will be the coordinator for the program. “I can’t say enough about how pleased I am with the response from the staff,” Murphy said. “We had 14 people step forward as volunteers.”
According to its national website, Law Enforcement Exploring “provides educational training programs for young adults on the purposes, mission, and objectives of law enforcement. The program provides career orientation experiences, leadership opportunities, and community service activities.
“The primary goals of the program are to help young adults choose a career path within law enforcement and to challenge them to become responsible citizens of their communities and the nation.”
There are more than 30,000 explorers nationally and more than 8,000 adult volunteers. The program is affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America.
“It’s run nationally, but we are left to run it how we want to do it,” Murphy said. Murphy said members will wear uniforms and the program will be run in an academy-style format.
“It will be formal, but not overly formal. There will be opportunities for them to train in a variety of areas, and it will be fun, too.”
Murphy said applications for the new program are available at the county Law Enforcement Center in Fort Edward and at the sheriff’s substation in Salem.
There is an application fee of $25, but Murphy said his office will make sure than anyone who wants to take part will be able to.