LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — The Lafayette Police Department has hired its first officer who participated in their high school explorer’s program since it launched in 2014.

The youngest a Lafayette Police officer can be hired is 20 years old, but these teenagers are starting their training as young as 14, and the inaugural class is becoming old enough to join the ranks.

“What I got to do in high school got to show me that I’m really interested in this, and this is what I want to do,” expressed Cameron Cormier.

Cormier was in the Lafayette Police Explorer Post 911 when it launched in 2014, and after pursuing a criminal justice degree at UL, he is training at the Acadiana Law Enforcement Training Academy to prepare fo his badge.

Cormier stated, “I met so many officers that were so beneficial in building me as a young person and also pushing me to be what I want to be as a police officer but also as a human being.”

Although Cormier is the first former explorer to join Lafayette Police, dozens are bound to follow in his footsteps. Hailey De Guelle is a high school senior who is planning to go elsewhere. She is hoping to use her training as an explorer for a career in the CIA or FBI.

Highlights from the 2021 Academy of the Lafayette Police Explorer Post 911

“I started extremely scared. I did not have a voice at all. I was very timid, and I didn’t really know too much about what I was doing,” De Guelle admitted.

Through four years of bi-monthly meetings and summer camps, she’s learned gun safety, tactics, codes, laws, community service, how to respond to calls, etc. After a year in the program, any kid can ride along with an officer to apply what they learned. De Guelle has done over 100 hours of it.

“It’s a crazy experience just to know, hey, this is what my officer is going to do next, and this is what I can do to assist in this moment,” she said.

Sgt. Robin Green has been an instructor with the explorer program since she had the idea to relaunch it in 2014 while she was still working in the juvenile division. Green sees Lafayette Police Explorer Post 911 as a recruitment tool but also a service to teens who don’t go into law enforcement.

According to Green, The Lafayette Police Explorers program has had kids as far as Rayne and Opelousas travel to participate. The Sergeant said if teens don’t have a police explorer program near them, even those from surrounding parishes are welcome to join any time of year.

“We’re the only parish right now that offers the explorers program,” Green explained. “They get to kind of walk a mile in our shoes.”