Evanston Police Department launches Explorer Program after 30 years inactive


Daily file photo by Daniel Tian

Two parked Evanston police cars. Evanston Police Department revived its Explorer Program, which is meant to groom the next generation of officers.

Julia Esparza, Assistant City Editor

Evanston Police Department revived its Explorer Program after 30 years and aims to give high school students hands-on opportunities to learn about careers in law enforcement.

The program — which meets twice a month — is a “mini police academy” where high schoolers will have a “robust” curriculum, which includes learning about crime scenes and becoming CPR certified, Evanston police officer Enjoli Daley said. The program is meant to “groom” the next generation of officers, said Daley, who oversees the program.

“Our hope is that we continue to build relationships with our community’s youth,” Daley said. “(The Explorer Program) is a worthwhile project and is positive for our department and community.”

Eleven Evanston Township High School students attended the Police Explorer Program’s first meeting Jan. 10  at EPD. The program’s application and interview process required students to have at least a 2.5 grade point average, have an interest in law enforcement and be of “good moral character,” Daley said.

Daley said she did most of the work to revive the program. She said she crafted the proposal, created much of its curriculum and worked with ETHS to find interested students.

“We want these students to have a positive police officer impact on their life,” Daley said. “There’s always a tough relationship between police and youth.”

Daley said at the program’s first meeting, officers introduced themselves to the students, went over expectations and gave participants a tour of the police department.

ETHS vocational teacher Darlene Gordon helped Daley coordinate student interest in the program. Gordon said giving kids the opportunity to interact with police officers in a “low-stress” situation is important.

“A lot of students never see a police officer unless they are being pulled over,” Gordon said. “It’s important that they see a different side of police officers.”

Gordon said the program also gives students hands-on experiences and makes them consider future career paths before they apply to college.

The program also gives “preference points” to participants to use if they decide to work for EPD in the future, Daley said. She said the relationship the students will form with EPD will make help them foster a strong relationship with the community.

Evanston Deputy Chief of police Jay Parrott participated in the Explorer Program when he was young. He is now one of the supervisors for the program.

“(The students) will not only get to see what a law enforcement office does, but (the program) also allows the department to do some important community engagement,” Parrott said.

Parrott said the program represented a good “cross-section” of Evanston youth that are very excited to learn and are involved in the community.

Daley echoed these sentiments and added that the program has a good mix of genders and demographics.

“As a female police officer, it makes me proud to see so many girls interested in becoming a police officer because that’s what we need,” Daley said.

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Twitter: @juliaesparza10