Eighty-two young trainees learn what it’s like to be a cop through explorers academy

Dozens of youth are learning what it takes to be a police officer this week at the Southeastern Law Enforcement Explorer Academy in Biloxi.
Updated: Jun. 17, 2019 at 4:52 PM CDT
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BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - Dozens of young men and women are learning what it takes to be a police officer. Even 12 students from England were included among this group.

They are all attending the Southeastern Law Enforcement Explorer Academy in Biloxi. The training received this week will serve the cadets well in the future. As part of the training, the students responded to a domestic call with an officer down as part of real life scenarios.

Handling firearms is also a part of the course.

For the 12 English cadets, being here is a perfect fit.

“I’ve sold the program to our kids. It’s an opportunity for them to come over and meet people who are like minded and have an interest in law enforcement and to share our different cultures,” said Aaron Bawder, a constable and instructor in England.

While law enforcement is the key ingredient at the academy, other skills learned are just as important.

“It’s a positive group of cadets hanging out with another positive group of cadets. You learn life lessons, not just law enforcement lessons,” said instructor Joey Payne with the Biloxi Police Department.

At the academy, there’s never a dull moment, and the cadets have an eye on the future.

“I’ve learned that we make friendships and bonds over the years. We learn how law enforcement works. It motivates us to grow. I’ve learned the interest of joining the military,” said trainee Kimberly Payne.

The 82 students range in age from 13 to 18 years old, and not all of them are going to seek a career in law enforcement. But for those that do, they have their own very special reasons.

“I like the fact of knowing that you can help people, the fact of keeping the streets safe. It’s just a good feeling, a gut feeling. You just feel good that you can help others,” said Natalie Plouffe.

Not everyone was as sure as Plouffe at first.

“At first, I never wanted to be a police officer. But since I joined the police cadets, it made me realize that that’s what I wanted to do, just to serve the people and country and to help people,” said Jack Lewis from England.

And now helping themselves as well.

This is the 30th year the week-long explorers academy has been held on the Coast. While here, all the cadets are being housed at the Keesler Air Force Base.

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