COLUMBUS GROVE — Law enforcement working with K-9s, confiscating drugs and traffic stops are skills seventh and eighth grade students in the Exploring Club at Columbus Grove schools are learning.
The program was the idea of Matt Kibler, exploring executive for the Black Swamp Council, who met with Sean Hiler, Columbus Grove police chief, and Mindy Losh, school counselor, to plan the program in early March. This is the first club in the Black Swamp Council’s 13-county council, according to Kibler.
There are eight students in the program, and they meet from 1 to 2 p.m. first Thursdays. The first meeting was Sept. 25, and the program is through May.
Eighth graders Spencer Laing and Brody Roof said they are interested in careers in law enforcement and being K-9 handlers.
Laing said he is interested in working in law enforcement.
“I liked seeing the K-9 and this program helps me realize what I need to become a police officer,” Laing said. He said an officer has to be able to protect themselves while doing their job.
Roof said he would like to be a K-9 handler, loves dogs and has four dogs at home.
“The dogs are there to help the officer do their job. If you are wanting to be in law enforcement, this program helps you know what you need to do,” Laing said.
Hiler is the lead adviser for the club and Jesse Meyer, Columbus Grove Police Department officer, assists with administering the program. Losh is the lead representative from the school leading in the organization of meeting dates, times and location.
Kibler said students have learned about what types of drugs have been confiscated in Columbus Grove and what they look like. Hiler also brought in several types of paraphernalia such as burned spoons and needles to explain to students what they should do if they ever find these items.
Hiler said all of the Putnam County high schools have a program that educates those students on careers in law enforcement. The Exploring program educates younger students that will provide a foundation of police knowledge for the Explorers program.
“This is a good opportunity to have positive contact with the students in school in a positive way,” Hiler said. He said the program helps students gain an understanding of jobs that are available in law enforcement.
The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and K-9 Nero were the topic in October.
“I believe this program is important because is allows students who see law enforcement professionals in a different light,” Kibler said. He said the program helps build trust in a small community between the youth and law enforcement.
He also said the program is focused on developing the law enforcement career interest of the youth and shedding light on all of the opportunities available, how to get there and what each career will require from an education and experience standpoint.
Each students will receive a certificate at the end of the program in May after they tour the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and Columbus Grove Police Department.
Reach Jennifer Peryam at 567-242-0362.