There seems to be no end to popular television shows offering dramatized and fictionalized representations of the work of police officers to the masses.
But the dedicated Tolland High School students who make up the Tolland Police Explorer Post have a much more reliable source as to what police work truly entails, courtesy of the expert officers from Tolland's Troop C.
The current eight explorers, who meet every two weeks, receive instruction from every unit under the state police umbrella. Officers from the SWAT team, K9 unit, criminal investigations, to name a few, stop by to offer a glimpse into the lives of police officers. The students also ride along with the troopers on shift, when appropriate, and have learned about gun safety and shooting at the shooting range. They even give their traffic control skills some practice volunteering at numerous local events.
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"It's something I would consider for a career," said THS junior and explorer Sgt. Andrew Orris of his experiences with the post.
Their education in police work continued at the post's Tuesday evening meeting. Detective Michael Hoague and Detective Scott Crevier spoke to the students about securing a crime scene and collecting evidence for an investigation.
After a demonstration on fuming for fingerprints with super glue, the detectives and post leader Trooper Dan McCarthy walked the explorers through a mock crime scene investigation.
The explorers responded to a 911 report of suicide and entered a "scene" created in the Troop C barracks. The students practiced their skills securing the scene, which involved frisking the gun-carrying brother (played by Trooper McCarthy) who made the 911 call and then methodically covering the scene to find evidence.
Photographs were taken of the fake shot gun, bullet casing and other key evidence, followed by systematic cataloging of the evidence, and finally testing for gun shot residue on the victim, as well as his "brother," to ensure that the accident was truly a suicide and not a homicide.
"They're self-sufficent, and they've gained a lot of law enforcement knowledge," McCarthy said of the explorers' progress through the program. The explorer post serves students spanning from eighth to twelth grade.
About half a dozen explorers have ended up pursuing careers in law enforcement, McCarthy added. He has been leading the post for more than ten years, he said.
The police explorer post is funded entirely by donations. Anyone interested in supporting the explorers can contact McCarthy at the Tolland Resident State Trooper office at 860-875-8911.