Over 200 high school students with their eye set on a career in law enforcement finished a unique program run by the New York City Police Department on Wednesday designed to help them reach that goal. NY1's Vivian Lee filed the following report.
Two-hundred thirty high school students graduated from the NYPD's Law Enforcement Exploring Academy on Wednesday morning with their families beaming.
"Very happy, proud," said Santa Ortiz, a mother of one graduate.
The graduates were also brimming with pride, as their first steps in a life of law enforcement, or a career that's related, are now behind them.
These young adults, however, are not resting on that laurel.
"I've always wanted to make the streets safe, 'cause a couple years ago I got robbed one time, so that changed my mind," said Explorer graduate Bryan Encarnacion. "I wanted to become an officer, I want to change this."
The Explorers program combines physical and academic training in real-life policing scenarios.
"The best part was going upstate for a week at Camp Keowa," said Explorer graduate Fernando Pena. "I did things from rappelling, mountain climbing, obstacle courses. I learned about police scenarios. It was just overall a great experience. Everything was just fantastic equally."
Students can return to the program year-upon-year and add to their skills.
Anelin Flete graduated to Explorer Lieutenant after four years.
"We started at eight 'o clock in the morning and ended at three-thirty, so I got home probably around four-thirty, so that's like a regular school day for a lot of high school kids," said Flete.
Many Explorers say that after just one year in the program, they get bitten by the policing bug and plan on continuing to participate in Explorers until they finish high school.