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Training Day - Explorers Gear For Weekend Competition
Gun gripped tightly in hand, Vaughn McKee ordered the driver in the truck he had just pulled over to show both his hands out the window of the vehicle, get out of the truck and drop to his knees.

The situation was a high risk felony traffic stop, with McKee and three other Escalon Police Department Explorers keeping their weapons trained on the driver and passenger as they tried to sort out the situation.

In another scenario, the group was led by Mallory Schulz, who was first on the bus, gun trained on the perpetrators leveling a shotgun at her from the back of the vehicle. Flanking Schulz were her Explorer teammates as air soft pellets whizzed back and forth, one 'suspect' taking a shot to the arm and upper lip, another having a pellet graze the side of his head.

Though they were just simulations, the crew of cadets in the Escalon Explorer program treated them as if they were real, getting in some solid training before heading to a competition in nearby Manteca this weekend.

"The first two days, July 15 and 16, they will be competing," said Explorer Program coordinator Sgt. Dusty Brookshire. "The third day there will be the ceremonies and awards presentation."

Explorers taking part in the recent training were McKee, Schulz, Joey Camara and Blake Dunford and they will be joined in the competition by Shawn Focht, who is currently attending the police academy at Delta College in Stockton.

"There are 12 events that they will do and they are based on teamwork," said Brookshire, who got his start in police work by joining the department's Explorer program.

"We do hostage negotiation, crime scene investigation, a domestic dispute, traffic stops, suicide prevention," he explained of the different scenarios the cadets will face and be scored on for their performance.

The majority of events are being staged at Sierra High School in Manteca, with a few scenarios playing out at different locations in the city.

"It was open to the first 300 Explorers to apply," said Brookshire.

Manteca, Ripon, Tracy and Modesto Explorers are putting on the competition and teams are coming from as far away as Siskiyou County, the Border Patrol out of San Diego and Los Angeles County.

Escalon Police Chief Jim Shaw said he is pleased the cadets will be able to showcase their training and he had high praise for those in the program.

"They're a pretty impressive group of young people, they help us out with special events," Shaw said. "Sgt. Brookshire has done a nice job with these young men and women, teaching them skills and professional deportment."

Shaw added that the Explorer program itself is "tremendous" and can be an outstanding training ground for future officers.

"Dusty was an Explorer," he pointed out of Brookshire. "And these are young adults with a real sense of commitment."

The recent training day featured some eight hours of work by the cadets, from breaking up a domestic dispute to disabling would-be hostage takers on a school bus to making an arrest following a felony traffic stop.

Brookshire said it is all taken very seriously, with the cadets looking to show well in the competition.

"This is the first time our post has ever done anything like this," Brookshire said. "We're looking forward to it."