HCPD program allows students to explore the world of police work

Horry County students have another extracurricular activity to add to the docket this year. The Horry County Police Department's Explorer Program started in January of 2014, and officers hope it continues to grow this school year.

The program is more than just a classroom lecture. It gives students on-the-job experience in filing reports, writing tickets and felony car stops.

For Jessica Elia, 18, the program not only teaches students what it's like to be in law enforcement but also how to be a better member of the community.

"It's always just good knowledge to have in general just being in society and knowing how to be a good citizen, " said Elia.

The Explorer Program was modeled after the Boy Scouts of America but differs in that it is a coeducational experience, according to Private First Class Thomas Roesch, who runs the program.

Pfc. Roesch participated in the Explorer Program at the North Myrtle Beach Police Department more than 12 years ago, and he says the knowledge students gain goes far beyond the law-enforcement related skills.

The best thing I took out of the program was the camaraderie, the ability to meet new people, to learn new things just by meeting those people and expanding my knowledge in law enforcement, life skills, social skills, said Pfc. Roesch.

There are about six kids in the program currently that blends teaching the fundamentals of police work with some fun.

"The coolest thing we've done so far probably would be when Pfc. Roesch parked his police car outside and he took one of our cars and put it in a traffic stop formation. We had to get in and out of his car and practice going up to the window and asking why they did what they did and right them a ticket," added James Moran, a 17-year-old student at the Scholar's Academy on Coastal Carolina University's campus.

Moran wants to be an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation and says he couldn't pass on the opportunity to be a part of the Explorer Program.

"I've always wanted to help other people and stop crime as much as I can and make a difference."

For Thomas Kelliher 16, the program hits home. His father has been a police officer for the past 12 years.

"I get to learn exactly what my dad goes through", said Kelliher. "My dad is always busy so I finally get to see what he has to go through every day."

The Explorer Program is only open to high school students throughout Horry County. They meet every Wednesday from 6pm - 9pm.