Kent Police Department launches new program for youth

Avery Savage, Reporter

Explorer program flyer

The Kent Police Department has rolled out a new program to show high school students the behind the scenes aspects of their operations. 

In emergency situations the police are met with vast media attention, but in non-emergency situations that isn’t always the case. The department wants the community to know that they work to create a safe environment each and every day.

“It seems so often you see stories of the police on TV and I wish the police would go out and give their side more often,” Capt. Jim Prusha said.

The Explorers Program gives teenagers the opportunity to explore the criminal justice system through a number of training experiences.

The Kent Police Department allows students 14 to 20-years-old to join the Explorer program. The sessions are the second and fourth Tuesday of each month. 

Lt. Ryan Gaydosh, one of the officers present during the session, gave students tips on gun safety. Gaydosh said he can see the impact this program will have for the youth. 

“Whether they go into law enforcement or not it will at least, you know, it’s one of those ways to leave a good impression with the community,” Gaydosh said.

Evelyn Visker, a Theodore Rosevelt high school junior, attended her first Explorers Program session Feb. 22. She plans to attend Kent State to pursue criminology as a future lawyer or police officer.

“I think it’s good for the police officers to reach out to the community because it gets everyone used to them and they don’t become such a scary body, and it helps people learn whether or not this is the career for them,” Visker said.

As the program continues, Prusha hopes enrollment rates will increase. Currently there are fewer than 10 attendees per session. The department is struggling with marketing efforts, but hopes to reach more students locally, he said.

The program focuses on topics within law enforcement, giving students hands-on experiences. 

 “In the past we’ve shown them our SWAT vehicle and our cars, we’ve had them practice traffic stops, we had them practicing fingerprinting for investigations, we did defensive tactics where we had them practice handcuffing us, a K9 demonstration and a jail demonstration,” Prusha said. 

Caroline Altizer, a service team chair, oversees similar programs in Portage county and other neighboring counties. These programs include law enforcement programs, fire department programs, a Goodyear engineering program and more, Altizer said.

“We want students to find out now what their career interests are, but more so what their career interests are not,” Altizer said.

Questions? Contact Captain Jim Prusha at [email protected] or follow the Kent police department on the Facebook page to become involved.

Avery Savage is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected].