GPD Explorers impress in special competition

Courtesy photo GARDENA’S FINEST—Gardena Police Explorers Pena, Tinoco, Ibarra, Fernandez, Dumas, Castro and Mendez, recently brought home performance honors from Tracy, Calif. Also pictured here are Chief Mike Saffell, Sgt. O. Saldana, Detective Rosales, Detective Nash and Detective Pinela

In the last weekend of June, participants of the Gardena Police Department’s Explorer Program placed in a number of categories while taking part in an Explorer competition in the city of Tracy, Calif. The Gardena Explorers placed 3rd in hostage negotiation, 2nd in drill and ceremony, 2nd in high risk vehicle stop, 3rd in traffic stop, 2nd in critical incident (for example, a person with a bomb), 2nd in family dispute incident, 2nd in “officer down” incident, and 3rd in hostage rescue. Sgt. Octavio Saldana told the News that the competition saw participants tested in a number of different scenarios that a fully trained adult police officer might face, including traffic stops, burglaries, crisis negotiations, and DUIs. “I feel very proud of the Explorers,” Officer Saldana told the News. “During COVID, the program was pretty much shutdown. A lot of kids aged out or left. At the beginning of this year, we were down to two members. Now that’s up to seven, but some of them have only two months training and they were competing against Explorers with a lot more. I’m proud because they’re committed to the program, and to working in the community.” The Police Explorer Program is described on the Gardena PD website as, “a program open to all youth from the community ranging from 14 to 21 years in age. The Police Explorer Program is sanctioned by Learning for Life, and is maintained and staffed by members of the Gardena Police Department. It is strictly a volunteer program that gives service to the Police Department and the community. The Explorers are a structured program that gives young men and women the academic and technical training needed to become future Law Enforcement Officers. The program also gives Explorers the leadership skills and self-discipline needed to become successful community leaders.” This year’s team competed against 26 other Explorer groups from throughout California, each group having between 10 and 20 members