GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - They are the future of law enforcement. A group of 10 Gulfport Police explorers returned home Monday afternoon from a national competition in Arizona. Despite the tragic headlines from Dallas and Baton Rouge, these young people are more determined than ever to pursue a career in law enforcement.
Gulfport's police chief and mayor welcomed the explorers back home following their ten day competition in Flagstaff, Arizona.
"So, when it really came down to it, what do you think was the difference for you?" asked Mayor Billy Hewes.
"Teamwork. Lots of teamwork," came the reply, in unison, from the teenagers.
Though these future law enforcers could be easily discouraged or even frightened by today's headlines, they are instead, more determined than ever.
"It does concern me a lot, but it just makes me want to be in law enforcement more," said Terriyanna Mays, "Because it's people out here that's really innocent and they're trying to kill innocent police officers, but when we wear our badge, we have to protect our police officers, no matter what."
James Turrubiartes still wants to pursue a career in law enforcement.
"It makes me decide I can make a difference in people's lives, like in the community. You know, make a change, instead of having the same bad areas," he explained.
What's it going to take to change things in America? Teijah Colston has some idea.
"I think it starts with us. Because we already have such a positive name for explorers. And we're all getting older, we've been around each other for so long. So, most of us want to be in law enforcement. And we're all positive people and we'll know what to do when we get up there," she said.
"It took us a little while to actually get the teamwork all together. But we eventually got it. And it paid off, we won," said Blakelyn Miller.
The group's advisor isn't at all surprised by the ambition and optimism of these teens.
"They want to make a difference. They want to make a difference in their families, their communities and their city. So, they're definitely on the right track," said the group's advisor, Raymond Brooks.
The Gulfport Police explorers competed against some 200 other teams in a variety of categories. They won the 2nd place trophy in the "crime prevention" division.