Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz. -- Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., and Yuma County Law Enforcement Agencies have built a strong and successful relationship over the last 50 years, enjoying the camaraderie and benefits of working together in the community. One of these collaborations is the annual Yuma County Law Enforcement Explorer Academy, which was hosted by the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office, July 14-20, aboard MCAS Yuma, Ariz.
The YCLEEA is an educational program providing youth, from ages 14-20, with the tools and knowledge to explore law enforcement as a career. Agencies that participated in training the “explorers” were the Yuma Sector Border Patrol, Yuma Police Department, and the Yuma County Sheriff’s Department
“The explorer program falls under the Boy Scouts of America program, and the youth are provided with leadership and community service opportunities, such as volunteering with the program,” said Frank Flores, a deputy with the Yuma County Sheriff’s Office and the lead advisor of the YCLEEA.
YCLEEA offers young adults the opportunity to learn about the mission, principles, and training objectives of a profession in law enforcement.
“We introduce them to the stressful life of a law enforcement officer and let them know what the challenges are like,” said Flores. “My goal is to make them successful in whatever they do later on in life. Its law enforcement based training but I want to teach them the basic life skills of leadership, discipline, and help them in whatever they chose to do in their careers.”
MCAS Yuma was chosen as the training site for the week-long summer academy because of the military structure it provides, and the experience it would give the explorers.
“A lot of us have prior military experience and have been through the law enforcement academy, so we use that as a model and MCAS [Yuma] has the facilities we need for this type of training,” said Flores.
Throughout their stay at MCAS Yuma, approximately 29 explorers participated in rigorous physical training, to include instruction in Oleoresin Capsicum “OC” Spray, Taser techniques, and defensive tactics. They also completed classroom training to learn the principles of law enforcement.
Explorers also had to complete classroom instruction on the history of law enforcement, ethics, integrity and the basics of patrolling.
“About 85 percent is classroom work,” said Wendell Walker, a detention officer with the Yuma County Sheriff’s Department. “It shows them different aspects of law enforcement and how they work. Most of the instructors are the elite in that field, such as the Taser illustration and the building clearing. Most of the individuals have had extensive training in that area, and that’s how we choose them.”
The explorers kept up with a demanding daily schedule, jumping right into physical training at 5 a.m., before their hands-on instruction and classes.
“They see Marines walking around and see Marines out there doing physical training,” said Flores. “Even in the chow hall, we acknowledge and mention to them that they are eating and sitting in the same facility alongside America’s warriors. They take pride in that too.”
Some of the scenarios were conducted and instructed by Marines during the explorer’s week long stay, which included the demonstration of military working dogs, Marine Corps Martial Arts Program, the obstacle course, and weapons handling in the Indoor Simulated Marksmanship Trainer.
During the K-9 presentation, Staff Sgt. Eric Snipes provided the detailed explanation of how the K-9 unit works in the Marine Corps to keep the station safe. The dogs, Bandi and Xander, demonstrated “bite-work”, which is having the dogs attack and bite the suspect role-played by Lance Cpl. Logan Mordh. They also showed techniques the handlers, Lance Cpl. Kristopher Marcum and Cpl. Drew Adams, use to apprehend suspects.
Explorers also took on the obstacle course with the help of several Marines: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Robert Mawson, station telephone officer and Marine Corps Martial Arts instructor, Gunnery Sgt. William McGowan, Assault Support Department chief and MCMAP instructor assigned to Marine Aviation and Weapons Tactics Squadron One (MAWTS-1) and Cpl. Ryan Clark., station telephone tech controller and MCMAP student.
After finishing all the necessary courses and training exercises through the grueling and challenging week, the students’ training was rewarded with a graduation ceremony on Saturday.