Teens are getting first-hand experience in this program on what it takes to be a cop

Hampton police officers advise and mentor teens who are apart of the Boy Scouts of America’s Explorer program, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (WYDaily/Courtesy Hampton Police Division)

Cpl. Zachariah Frederick has been working at the Hampton Police Division for more than 20 years but his service with the department started when he was a teenager.

By the time he was in middle school, Frederick said he had a keen interest in becoming a police officer and that interest had been solidified during one of his most memorable moments growing up in Hampton.

“I was at Davis Middle School and we had to stand out front for Officer Kenny Wallace’s procession…there was just something there that just kind of sparked and I just wanted to work in the community and help better the community,” he said.

At 16 years old, Frederick had joined the Boy Scouts of America’s Law Enforcement Explorers’ post at the Hampton Police Division where he’d get firsthand experience on what it’d take for him to become a law enforcement officer.

Now, in addition to his scheduled shifts at the department, Frederick serves as an adviser for the program he called a “teen police academy” where participants from 14 to 20 years old meet twice a month and follow a Boy Scouts of America curriculum and police created lesson plans.

“Basically it mirrors our Hampton Police Division Academy,” he said. “They don’t just see demonstrations, they actually do the stuff.”

From learning driving techniques and familiarizing themselves at firearms courses to classes on the legalities behind policing and physical training at the end of the day, Frederick said by the time they’re of age to be hired and go through the academy they’ll be ready the same way he was when he transitioned from explorer, to police cadet.

“Learning those skills ahead of time, understanding police work and what I was getting into was a big factor…when it came time for me to go in front of the boards and through the hiring process, I felt really comfortable with what I was doing and what I was talking about,” he said.

The Explorers Law Enforcement Post at the Hampton Police Division went inactive for several years but with Police Cheif Terry Sult a proponent for community partnership and an ambassador of the program as a former explorer himself, Frederick said the program returned earlier this month when they had their first meeting with six new students.

At 14 years old the now-police chief would become an explorer at his local police department in Mecklenburg, North Carolina while also volunteering as a 911 dispatcher. Sult would continue on as an explorer until 1977 when he became a full-time police dispatcher, and then a sworn police officer in 1978.

“[Explorers] really helped me to open my eyes to what law enforcement was and gave me that push for something that I did want to do…I just hope to bring that to these kids also, even if they don’t choose law enforcement as a career path, it’ll be a good resource for mentorship and general guidance on what they do in their lives,” Frederick said.

Male and female teens ages 14 to 20 are eligible for the Explorers program at the Hampton Police Division contingent upon a background check and meeting school grades criteria mandated and accomplished by the Boy Scouts of America.

With a revolving program and new activities added along the way, the explorers in Hampton are always open for new applicants, Frederick said. Learn more or apply by contacting the division’s Community Engagement Unit, 757-727-6574. 

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