During the last two weeks, 33 young men and women participated in the Explorer Academy held at the Golder Ranch Fire District’s training facility.

The academy was the first one for Golder Ranch, and was joined by Oro Valley Police Department and Pinal County Sheriffs’ Explorers.

With OVPD’s Explorer program well established, the department worked closely with Golder Ranch to implement its academy by helping with fundraising and collaborating on the two-week program.

Oro Valley Police Officer Shawn Benjamin is one of the organizers who runs the academy along with officers Kevin Mattocks and Brian Kleinberg.

“The two agencies coming together has been great,” said Benjamin. “There have been no problems. It has run so smooth.”

For Golder Ranch, the Explorers started off with learning about equipment, the chain of command, and CPR. By the middle of the academy, they were learning about ropes and knots, and first aid. By the end of the week, they were riding on fire trucks, and running hoses through a structure.

Throughout the Oro Valley Explorers’ week, they performed traffic stops, building searches, and dealt with suspicious persons and domestic violence situations.

During the past three months, the three Oro Valley officers met with Golder Ranch Captain Joshua Hurguy each week to organize the logistics for the academy. The group came together with the same vision for the academy.

“We want to educate and look into public safety, whether it is police or fire, we want them to see what we do and what goes into it,” Benjamin said. “On a second note, I hope they see the community aspects, too. We want them to see what the community offers and what they can do to interact with the community.”

The Monday following the academy, some of the Explorers participated in a community project.

The academy not only has helped 33 young men and woman, ages 15 to 20 years of age, better understand the roles and duties of fire and police, but it has helped two departments, that wouldn’t normally collaborate, work together. They have worked together on a common goal and now have a better understanding of each other’s priorities so when on scene together in an emergency situation each department can better anticipate what the other needs.

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