101 Precinct Looking For Explorer Candidates
It is probably one of the least known, but one of the most important community programs the New York City Police Department runs - the Explorer program, which brings together area youth and officers of the NYPD.
We're always looking for new explorers, said Officer Lakeisha Smith, the youth officer and explorer advisor for the 101 Precinct.
"We teach drills and how to interact with police officers," said Smith. "They also do community service, go on trips and compete in competitions against other explorer posts throughout the boroughs."
Explorers have helped to improve how their community looks through graffiti and park cleanups, and have given their time to hand out water during marathons, as well as do office work at the precinct.
Maria Fields, 16, explained what she likes about the program.
"It's the fact we get to interact with police officers," said Fields. "I used to think they [the police] were not too good. Now, I have a whole different perspective."
Clifford Pitter, also 16, is using the explorers as a steeping stone for the future. "I want to be a cop when I grow up," Pitter said. "It teaches the basics."
While the program highlights community service and learning about the law, it is not all work.
Explorers have gone on trips to Great Adventure and Radio City Music Hall. They've been to the movies with other explorer posts, to dances, to basketball games at Madison Square Garden, to the circus and museums.
Some explorers have even taken part in the Police Athletic League's Cops and Kids Tourney, in which volunteer police officers and youngsters compete on the same teams against different precincts.
This year the 101 Precinct's basketball team won the borough championship and represented Queens in the city tournament.
The Explorer Program is for boys and girls between the ages of 13 and 21.
"They should have a 'C' average and are not supposed to have any felonies," said Smith, about those who are accepted to the voluntary program.
There is also a program, called the Junior Investigators, for boys and girls between 10 and 13 years of age.
The Explorers meet on Thursdays at MS 53, 1045 Nameoke St. in Far Rockaway at at 4:30 p.m.