Banks back Explorer program

By Jennifer Peryam -

OTTAWA — Youth ages 14 to 21 interested in a career in law enforcement will get hands-on experience thanks to a donation to Putnam County’s Explorer program.

Leaders of the First National Bank of Pandora, Fort Jennings State Bank, Ottoville Bank Company and the Union Bank Company met Friday at Putnam County Sheriffs Office and presented a $1,500 check to be used for the program.

The funds will provide aid in purchasing uniforms for the youth and also purchase supplies such as flash lights and safety vests. The program is year-round for youth in northwest Ohio and there are 10 youth registered currently with eight being young women who have an interest in law enforcement.

Bryan Hoover, Putnam County Sheriffs Office deputy, first met with Union Bank President Brian Young in April about bringing the program back that hasn’t been active in Putnam County since 2002. Young contacted the three other banks in the county and they were on board to contribute financial support.

“We are facing a recruitment shortage in law enforcement so anything we can do to get the young people interested is a positive,” Hoover said. Youth enrolled in the program learn about traffic stops, crime scene investigations and shooting scenarios among other topics and everything is hands on to keep them actively involved.

The program is taught by Hoover, Putnam County Sheriffs Office Captain Kelly Iliff, Officer Robert Fitzgerald and Dispatcher Katie Hadsell.

Iliff said youth learn leadership skills and any situation a road deputy takes care of. To quality students are required to fill out an application through the Boy Scouts of America and pay a fee.

“These students are the future of law enforcement. We have students from Lima and Wapakoneta in addition to Putnam County,” Iliff said.

Brian Siefker, Putnam County sheriff, said he has read statistics that law enforcement recruitment is down by 65 percent currently and is one of the highest occupations that is struggling for recruitment.

“We start them at a young age so they can decide what they want to do when they get older and gives them a step ahead if they want to go into law enforcement,” Siefker said.

He said the program provides the students with hands-on experience where they receive a tour of the jail, a K-9 demonstration and ride with deputies to get experience on what law enforcement does.

Siefker thanked the banks for their financial contributions that he said the youth in the program will appreciate.

For more information about the Explorer program contact Captain Kelly Iliff at 419-523-3208 or via email at

By Jennifer Peryam

Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.

Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.

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