Exploring future careers with the Yakima Police Department - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Exploring future careers with the Yakima Police Department

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YAKIMA, WA - Heroes run into danger while the rest of us get away, and the police are some of the exceptional people that do that. But right now, it has never been more dangerous to be an officer. So how do departments recruit the next generation?

Reporter Veronica Padilla got an inside look into a program with Yakima Police.

Everyone who puts on a badge and kisses their families goodbye never know if they'll be coming home at the end of the day. That thought would stop most of us from being a cop. But not those who decide to join the Explorer Post with the Yakima Police Department.

These men and women are ready to protect and serve, they're just not old enough yet. These are the faces of Yakima P.D.'s Explorer Post, mostly teenagers interested in becoming police officers.

18-year-old Samantha Martinez has been an explorer for two years.

"I have an aunt who works in corrections, and she kind of inspired me as a young kid wanting to become an explorer because her and my dad were both explorers," said Martinez, a uniformed explorer.

Detective Dulce Diaz and Officer Ryan Davis run the program. Davis is one of 17 current officers in Yakima County who are part of the explorers. His adviser was an explorer, and is now one of his supervisors in the Yakima P.D. Now it's Officer Davis inspiring teens to join law enforcement.

"To know how I looked up to him makes me feel better about what work I do here when they get to now look up to us as law enforcement officers," said Officer Davis.

Uniformed explorers and recruits meet once a week for two hours. After their inspection, they practice responding to calls officers get every day. The explorers get a taste of what the job is really like, often wiping away the assumptions we all get about police because of TV shows and movies.

"You're not always running down the street chasing a criminal," said Martinez. "Sometimes, it's just having a conversation and trying to figure out how to make a better solution."

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