Students in York County will have a new opportunity this year to learn and experience law enforcement with a program from the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office.
Sgt. Jeff Charville has been in law enforcement for 26 years, 14 of which have been with YPSO, and he said a lot of his career’s trajectory was thanks to his time with the Exploring program as a teenager.
The Exploring program is a national service through the Boy Scouts of America that connects students with organizations and businesses in their communities for career-specific experiences, according to the organization’s website.
“Law enforcement was something I wanted to do at a much younger age,” Charville said. “But when I had the opportunity in high school to join an Explorer Post it solidified my decision.”
Through the program, local organizations can either offer an explorer club or explorer post. Charville said. While an Explorer Club starts students at age 10, Charville said an Explorer Post offers a more career-oriented program to older students who are at an age where they begin thinking about the future.
Charville decided to offer an Explorer Post to students in order to engage with the older age group. Part of the benefits, he said, is the program can be a great recruiting tool for the department.
“I think it’s if you’re thinking about a career and there is a post nearby, you get that hands on experience and relationship building,” he said.
Charville said he wanted to start the program in the area for a number of years but with the new Community Services program with the department, he thought now was the perfect opportunity.
The program will have students, both boys and girls, from ages 14 to 21. Students will get to experience hands-on activities such as directing traffic, learning basic self-defense tactics and participate in firearm safety tasks. There will also be a rank structure in the program and uniforms provided by YPSO.
Charville said the amount of people in the class will depend on the size of interest. Originally, he said the plan is to only have about 10 students in order to keep the program small enough for individual student learning, noting if more students are interested then the department doesn’t plan to turn them away.
“At 14 you’re a ninth grader and a lot of kids have an interest in certain careers by that age,” he said. “So it’s just an opportunity to get some training in a career and get some good relationships.”
There isn’t an exact time or amount of meetings planned yet, but Charville expects the members of the post would meet for maybe two hours once or twice a month.
Currently, Charville said there are about 15 deputies and staff from the department who are already interested in volunteering with the program, but he expects it to continue to grow as the program takes off.
There is no starting date set but there will be an information session for students and families from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on May 30 at Grafton Middle School.
The information session is where those interested can learn about the different activities and benefits of the program, as well as receive an application packet. Application fees are $30.
For more information, visit the York-Poquoson Sheriff’s office on Facebook.