Ellis County Sheriff's Explorers Post 106
"We aim high to hit the mark"

Ellis County Sheriff's Office

Ellis County Sheriff's Explorers – latest events


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

ECSO Explorers take first place honors at Lake Jackson competition

Waxahachie, Texas – April 24, 2017

CONGRATULATIONS to our Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post, which recently participated in the Lake Jackson Explorer competition and brought home the overall first place trophy. The post was represented by two teams: Explorer Capt. Gage Adams of Waxahachie, Remi Gomez of Waxahachie, Angela Duncan of Ennis and Sara Segura of Waxahachie. This team took first place in burglary in progress, first place in arrest and search, first place in domestic disturbance and second place in bomb investigation. The second team, Explorer Cpl. Noel Campbell of Waxahachie, Everett Bias of Waxahachie, Allison Bush of Ennis and Chase Conroy of Waxahachie, took second place in DWI and second place in active shooter.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

ECSO Explorers serve as color guard

Waxahachie, Texas – April 24, 2017

Members of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post recently served as the color guard for Congressman Joe Barton’s annual celebration of the independence of the state of Texas. Color guard members included Explorer Capt. Gage Adams, Cpl. Noel Campbell, Sara Segura, Everett Bias and Tristan McQueen, all of Waxahachie.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

ECSO Explorers take second place overall honors at state competition

Waxahachie, Texas – Aug. 12, 2016

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post 106 took second place overall honors out of 76 teams entered at the 27th annual TLEEAA State Competition, which took place July 28-31 at the University of Texas at Arlington. This is the fourth year in a row that Post 106 has placed in the top three overall standings out of all posts and teams competing.

The Sheriff’s Explorers took two, four-member teams to the competition, which included team scenarios to work through and individual skills tests, including bike riding, vehicle cone course and physical agility. Post 106’s Explorers who were not competing participated in the competition by serving as scenario actors. Each team that entered participated in eight scenarios drawn from amongst 16 scenarios offered in the schedule.

“These Explorers have been practicing and looking forward for this event,” ECSO Explorer Advisor Arnold Aguilar said. “I could not ask for a better group of young men and women. I have always told them that they are the ones who make this post what it is and my only request to them was for them to do their best and have a great time.”

ECSO Explorer Team B, which was composed of Lt. Ross McRee, Sgt. Isaiah Bias, Explorer Tristan McQueen and Explorer Remigio Gomez, received the following awards in the scenario competitions en route to placing as the second overall team:
• first place – felony traffic stop
• second place – arrest, search and seizure
• second place – gang activity? • second place – bomb threat
• second place – officer down/rescue
• third place – intoxicated driver

“I am very proud of these Explorers for giving their best and they continue to make us proud. I have said to them on a regular basis, ‘it is all about team work,’ and they proved that and understand it is a team effort and worked well together,” advisor Aguilar said.

In the scenario competitions, ECSO Explorer Team A, which was composed of Capt. Gage Adams, Cpl. Noel Campbell, Explorer Matthew Aguilar and Explorer Everett Bias, received the following awards:
• first place – robbery in progress
• second place – domestic crisis
• third place – intoxicated driver
• third place – arrest, search and seizure

“These young men and women continue to amaze us all,” advisor Aguilar said. “I could not ask for a better group to work with. They continue to follow the example of excellence already set by law enforcement in Ellis County.”

The final top five overall team placings were Coppell Police Department Post 130, first place; Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Post 106, second place; Richardson Police Department Post 761, third place; Plano Police Department Post 911, fourth place; and Houston Police Department Post 3203, fifth place.

“Our Explorers have always looked forward to the TLEEA State Competition and this one was no exception,” advisor Aguilar said. “These young men and women have always given their best. I can say that they all work together and get the job done. I cannot express in words how proud I am to be a part of this amazing group of young men and women. The Ellis County community should be proud of these young men and women and how they represented our county.”

Additional honors received by Post 106 included $750 scholarships to Explorers Gage Adams, Noel Campbell and Ross McRee. Adams also took second place honors in the individual physical agility competition. Participating in the competition as scenario actors were Explorers Sara Segura, Allison Bush and Angela Duncan.

“I am very proud of our Explorers, who continue to set a standard for the program,” Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown said. “It doesn’t matter whether they’re competing, doing a community service project or training on a new skill. All we ever ask of them is that they give their best – and they do that every time. The trophies are nice but the life skills they are learning and putting to use are what will lead them to success throughout their lives.”

For more information on the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Exploring program, contact Officer Arnold Aguilar by email at arnold.aguilar@co.ellis.tx.us or by calling 972-825-4915. The Post’s website is www.ecsoexplorers.com.

Shown above are, front row, from left, Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Lt. Ross McRee of Midlothian, Explorer Remigio Gomez of Waxahachie, Explorer Allison Bush of Ennis, Explorer Sara Segura of Waxahachie, Explorer Angela Duncan of Ennis, (back row) Advisor Arnold Aguilar, Explorer Matthew Aguilar of Waxahachie, Explorer Capt. Gage Adams of Waxahachie, Explorer Sgt. Isiah Bias of Waxahachie, Explorer Tristan McQueen of Italy, Explorer Everett Bias of Waxahachie, Explorer Cpl. Noel Campbell of Midlothian and Assistant Advisor Hunter Barnes.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   

ECSO Explorers participate in Advanced Explorer Academy

Waxahachie, Texas – Aug. 12, 2016

Among the summer’s highlights for Explorers with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Post was their participation in the second annual Advanced Explorer Academy hosted by the Colleyville, Coppell and Little Elm Police departments and the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

The five-day training saw Explorers who completed the 2015 Basic Explorer Academy take part. Of these, two Explorers – Cpl. Noel Campbell and Matthew Aguilar – represented the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

“It is a good feeling to see how these Explorers grow in the knowledge of law enforcement,” ECSO Explorer Advisor Arnold Aguilar said. “It is also a good feeling to see them having fun doing the work that is involved during the Advanced Explorer Academy.

During the academy, the Explorers develop their skills in making first contact by working on their defense and takedown skills against an instructor wearing Redman protective gear. The Explorers also participated in an active shooter training that incorporated Simunition (simulated ammunition). The training was held at the Coppell Police and Fire departments.

The academy included an eight-hour training scenario that began with two civilians giving a report on what they overheard while at a coffee shop. They reported a possible bank robbery, with the scenario ending with the Explorers addressing a suicide bomber threat at Coppell City Hall.

“The kids really enjoyed this session,” Aguilar said. “We divided the Explorers into three different squads and assigned a command staff to run the command post.

“Throughout the day, they worked the intelligence they were gathering while also having to take other calls that were built into the scenario,” he said. “Some of the calls related to the overall scenario; some were bogus. They had to question suspects and figure out what we had supplied them, such as clues written on a Starbucks napkin.

“As they were putting the pieces of the puzzle together, there was an added officer-involved shooting as part of the scenario,” Aguilar said. “ATF helped us out and the Explorers had to get a warrant and make sure they got it right” by having the correct probable cause in the warrant.

The training scenario ended at about 8 p.m. when the Explorers identified their suspect and converged on City Hall, where they used their negotiating skills to talk the suicide bomber into surrendering.

“The Explorers enjoyed this scenario and all of the other calls that were related to it,” Aguilar said. “The academy is planning to come up with something special and more intriguing to keep them on their toes next year.”

The Explorers also took part in an all-day ropes-type course challenge before wrapping up their week on the fifth day with a full day spent at the gun range.

The sponsoring agencies plan to continue hosting the basic and advanced academies and may add a third level of academy for those Explorers who have now completed the first two levels.

You may reach the ECSO Explorer program supervisor, Officer Arnold Aguilar, by email at arnold.aguilar@co.ellis.tx.us or by calling 972-825-4915.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

Ellis County Sheriff’s Office’s Explorers honor guard takes part in 2016 Police Memorial

Waxahachie, Texas – May 13, 2016

The 2016 Police Memorial for Ellis County was held Friday, May 13, at the pocket park in downtown Waxahachie. Law enforcement agencies from around the county were represented, with members of the community also on hand for the memorial ceremony.

The ceremony was held in anticipation of National Police Week, which saw its beginnings in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as Police Week (http://www.policeweek.org/).

Every year, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office works with law enforcement agencies throughout Ellis County to put together a ceremony that honors the sacrifice made by our fellow peace officers and their families. The goal of this ceremony is to never allow a peace officer, who has been killed in the line of duty, to be forgotten.

During each ceremony a roll call is made, where every fallen officer’s name is called out by a current member of law enforcement. If a family member is not available to call “present” during the roll call, we have someone from the fallen officer’s agency call “present” for them. As part of this year’s ceremony, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers honor guard raised the flag and then lowered it to half-staff.

From August 1880 through July 2012, we have lost 14 peace officers in the line of duty here in Ellis County. This year, we held our ceremony May 13 and had three of the four families of a fallen officer present to honor their loved one and our fellow brothers by calling “present” during the roll call.

Planning for the 2017 ceremony will begin in January.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers awarded first place overall honors at Battle of Big D

Waxahachie, Texas – April 7, 2016

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post took home first place overall honors during the third annual Dallas Police Explorer Battle at Big D competition at Fair Park on Saturday, April 2. The Battle of Big D competition is an invitation-only meet of 24, four-member teams that each took part in four skills-based scenarios. This year’s meet featured scenarios on active shooter, DWI, robbery in progress and domestic violence.

Representing the ECSO Explorers were its Green team of Capt. Gage Adams, Sgt. Shelby Snodgress, Cpl. Noel Campbell and Remigio Gomez. The Green team was awarded first place overall honors based upon its scenario scores of first place in active shooter, first in domestic disturbance, second in DWI and second in robbery in progress.

Also representing the ECSO Explorers was its Red team of Lt. Ross McRee, Tristan McQueen, Courtney Cline and Everett Bias. The Red team was honored with first place in the DWI scenario and third place in the active shooter scenario.

“I’ve seen most of these kids grow from ‘rookies’ to ‘veterans,’ ” said Deputy and Explorer Advisor Ella Pollins, who has worked with the post since 2011. “They’re very hard working and dedicated young adults and I was proud of them for accomplishing their goal. These kids are something else and they make me very proud to be their advisor.”

Added Deputy and Explorer Advisor Hunter Barnes, “I’m so proud of these kids; all the hard work has paid off. With continued training and dedication we look forward to the state competition.”

For more information on the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer program, email ecso.explorers@co.ellis.tx.us or call 972-825-4934.                             


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers present the colors during annual Friends of Scouting fundraiser/dinner

Waxahachie, Texas – Feb. 19, 2016

Congratulations to Ellis County Sheriff's Office Explorers Gage Adams, Noel Alexandra Campbell, Tristan McQueen, Ross McRee and Shelby Snodgress for their outstanding presentation of the colors for the Friends of Scouting fundraiser/dinner, held Thursday evening, Feb. 18, at the Omni in Dallas and with Roger Staubach as guest speaker.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers honored for volunteerism

Waxahachie, Texas – Dec. 28, 2015

Thirteen Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers have been awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award for the volunteer hours they did during 2015. The President’s Volunteer Service Award is a national program open to all U.S. citizens and legal residents.

The awards are based on the recipient’s age and the number of volunteer hours served in a calendar year. Each of the Explorers received a challenge coin, a certificate of completion and a letter from President Obama thanking them for their service.

Gold Award honors were received by Explorers Everett Bias, Noel Campbell and Sgt. Shelby Snodgress.

Silver Award honors were received by Explorers Jon Anthony, Capt. Gage Adams and Trevor Snodgress.

Bronze Award honors were received by Explorers Matthew Aguilar, Isaiah Bias, Courtney Cline, Cpl. Nadir Garcia, Remigio Gomez, Lt. Ross McRee and Cpl. Brandy Slusher.

The President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation administers the awards program, which was established in 2003 and continues as an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

In the past three years, members of the Ellis County Sheriff's Office's Explorer Post, including the adult advisors, have provided 5,884 hours of community service.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers assist with countywide toy-drive

Waxahachie, Texas – Dec. 11, 2015

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers provided their assistance to the 2015 Ellis County Toy Drive, a countywide, employee-driven event that is in its sixth year. The toy drive has grown to include participation from multiple county and elected offices, including the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, as well as additional agencies, including the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Waxahachie Police Department.

A special collection day was held the day after Thanksgiving, which allowed the community at large to join in the effort, which benefits the Presbyterian Children’s Home and the Texas Baptist Home for Children. This year, about 100 children saw their holidays made brighter as each received the items on their wish list plus additional items due to the generosity of those participating in the toy drive.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers take first place trophy in Ennis Christmas Parade

Waxahachie, Texas – Dec. 4, 2015

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers were recognized with the first place trophy in the Ennis Chamber of Commerce’s Parade of Lights on Dec. 3. This year, the Explorers’ float theme was “Star Wars.” Many hours were put into the float and costumes, with the Explorers participating in four holiday season parades around the county: Ennis, Midlothian, Red Oak and Waxahachie. (Photo courtesy of Jina Armstrong Photography).


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers take third in Plano X Explorer Competition

Waxahachie, Texas – Nov. 6, 2015

Three members of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Exploring Program competed in the annual Plano X Explorer Competition on Oct. 24-25, bringing home a third place overall trophy. This competition is recognized as the most extreme Explorer competition in the nation.

Only 10 teams nationwide are allowed to compete and each may only send one three-person team. Representing the ECSO Explorers were Lt. Gage Adams, Sgt. Ross McRee and Matthew Aguilar.

The event started at 6 p.m. Saturday and ended Sunday at 7 a.m. This year’s competing teams were from the U.S. Border Patrol, San Antonio PD, Irving PD, Richardson PD, The Colony PD, Grand Prairie PD, Trophy Club PD, Coppell PD, Keller PD and the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

“The events this year were some of the most realistic and best I have ever seen,” said Deputy Jeff Prater, who serves as lead Explorer advisor for the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

The scenario events included a vehicle pursuit, an open carry demonstration at a government building, officer down, political protest, someone impersonating as an officer and others. The scenarios chosen for the competition are ones that officers have had to deal with in real life.

Prater said he was particularly pleased with how the ECSO Explorer team handled the scenario involving a suspect who was impersonating an officer. In the scenario, the suspect had pulled a vehicle pulled over and was holding an individual at gunpoint.

“Our Explorers arrived and secured the area,” Prater said. “They identified the ‘officer,’ who was wearing BDUs, a badge and a gun belt. He told the Explorers he was an officer from another department. Our Explorers noticed he had a police ID, but they still checked to verify his story. They checked to see if the ‘officer’ had a criminal history and found he was a convicted felon. Our Explorers quickly took the imposter down and placed him under arrest.

“As they were gathering evidence, they then noticed there was more to this offense,” Prater said. “They found that the imposter had kidnapped a person and had them tied up in the trunk of his car. Our Explorers scored a 98 out of a possible 100 points on this scenario.”

In all, each Explorer team competed in 10 different scenarios overnight. At the end of the competition, the top three teams were U.S. Border Patrol, first place overall team; San Antonio PD, second place overall team; and Ellis County Sheriff’s Office – third place overall team.

“I am very proud of our Explorers,” said Prater. “The citizens of Ellis County will be glad to know that these Explorers are the future law enforcement officers of America, and the future looks bright.”

Cutline: From left, Ellis County Sheriff Explorer Matthew Aguilar, Lt. Gage Adams and Sgt. Ross McRee.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers Post brings home trophies from Harris County competition

Waxahachie, Texas – Sept. 22, 2015

The Ellis County Sheriff Explorers sent three teams to Houston, Texas, for the second annual Harris County Explorer Competition hosted by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office on Sept. 19.

The event drew 30 Explorer teams from across Texas. Ellis County Sheriff Explorers Team 25 consisted of Lt. Gage Adams, Cpl. Brandy Slusher, Cpl. Nadir Garcia and Cameron Sherrell; Team 26 consisted of Sgt. Ross McRee, Matthew Aguilar, Luis Martinez and Noel Campbell; and Team 27 consisted of Sgt. Shelby Snodgress, Isiah Bias, Tristian McQueen and Remigio “Remi” Gomez.

The Explorers were led by Lt. Bruce Stayments and Deputy Jeff Prater, who serves as the lead Explorer advisor.

This year, there were 12 different team events and several individual events. At the beginning of the event, all of the Explorers shared a moment of silence for Deputy Darren Goforth of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, who was gunned down Aug. 28 while filling his patrol car with gas at a convenience store.

For the Harris County competition, Prater and the senior members of the Ellis County Sheriff Explorers program decided to change up the post’s normal teams.

“We have gained several new Explorers in our program this year and they have no experience in competing in competitions, so we wanted to focus on giving them that experience of having to perform under the stress of a competition,” Prater said. “We decided to put members of our normal competition teams in with our new Explorers so they could work side by side and learn firsthand from those who have been to competitions.

“At this competition, our Explorers were not trying to win trophies, they were looking for the experience the new Explorers needed,” Prater said. “In the beginning, you could see they were a little nervous, but they quickly realized the training we have been giving them was exactly the training needed for competitions.”

The three Ellis County Sheriff Explorers teams each participated in four events, bringing home nine trophies overall:

Team 25

• 1st Place in Burglary in Progress

• 2nd Place in Misdemeanor Traffic Stops

• 3rd Place in Arrest & Search

• 3rd Place in Crime Scene Investigation

Team 26  

• 1st Place in Bomb Threat Investigation

• 2nd Place in Arrest & Search

• 3rd Place in Domestic Disturbance

Team 27  

• 1st Place in DWI Investigation

• 3rd Place in Robbery in Progress

“The overall experience at the competition was great and we could not be any happier,” Prater said.

The next competition for the Ellis County Sheriff Explorers will be in October at the Plano X Explorer Competition, which is an all-night-long competition that is held across the city of Plano.

If you wish to know more about the Ellis County Sheriff Explorers, visit the post’s website at www.ecsoexplorers.com or contact Prater at 972-825-4934 or jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us. The Explorers meet every Tuesday night at the Law Enforcement Center at 2272 Farm-to-Market 878, Waxahachie.

The Law Enforcement Exploring Program is a division of the Learning for Life Program and the Boy Scouts of America. The Ellis County Sheriff Explorers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to enabling young people to become responsible individuals by teaching positive character traits, career development, leadership and life skills so they can make ethical choices and achieve their full potential.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers participate in Advanced Explorer Academy

Waxahachie, Texas – Sept. 11, 2015

Among the summer’s highlights for Explorers with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Post was their participation in the first Advanced Explorer Academy hosted by the Sheriff’s Office and the Colleyville, Coppell and Irving Police departments.

The five-day training saw 20 Explorers who completed the 2014 Basic Explorer Academy take part. Of these, 11 Explorers represented the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

“It was an absolute success,” Sheriff’s Office Deputy and Lead Advisor Jeff Prater said. “The kids love it. It was 100-percent a success.”

On the first day, the Explorers developing their skills in making first contact, with the afternoon spent working on their defense and takedown skills against an instructor wearing Redman protective gear. The second day saw the Explorers participate in an active shooter training that incorporated Simunition (simulated ammunition). The training was held at the Texas Army National Guard facility in Irving and taught by Irving PD’s SWAT officers.

The third day was a 12-hourlong training scenario that began with an anonymous call reporting a bomb threat and ended with the Explorers addressing a suicide bomber threat at Coppell City Hall.

“The kids thought the third day was the best session,” Prater said. “We divided the Explorers into five different squads and assigned a chief and second in command to run the command post.

“Throughout the day, they worked the intelligence they were gathering while also having to take other calls we had built into the scenario,” he said. “Some of the calls related to the overall scenario; some were bogus. They had to question suspects, figure out that we had supplied them with fake IDs and do surveillance.

“They were putting the pieces of the puzzle together and then we added in an officer-involved shooting,” Prater said. “ATF helped us out and we had a real judge who reviewed the Explorers’ warrants and kept rejecting them until they got them right” by having the correct probable cause in their warrants.

The training scenario ended at about 8 p.m. when the Explorers identified their suspect and converged on City Hall, where they used their negotiating skills to talk the suicide bomber into surrendering.

“The kids thought this was the greatest scenario ever,” Prater said. “We’ll have to come up with something special to keep them on their toes next year.”

The fourth day saw the Explorers took part in an all-day ropes-type course challenge on the fourth day before wrapping up their week on the fifth day with a full day spent at the gun range. About half of the Explorers qualified for the Learning for Life Firearms Expert Shooter Award during the academy.

ECSO Explorer Trevor Snodgress received the Top Shot Award; ECSO Explorer Lt. Gage Adams won the 3-Gun Match Award.

Prater said the agencies plan to continue hosting the basic and advanced academies and may add a third level of academy for those Explorers who have now completed the first two levels.

You may reach the ECSO Explorer program supervisor, Deputy Jeff Prater, by email at jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us or by calling 972-825-4934.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers take second place overall honors at state competition

Waxahachie, Texas – Aug. 11, 2015

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post 106 took second place overall honors out of 96 teams entered at 26th annual TLEEAA State Competition, which took place July 30-Aug. 2 at the University of Texas at Arlington. This is the third year in a row that Post 106 has placed in the top three overall standings out of all posts and teams competing.

The Sheriff’s Explorers took three, four-member teams to the competition, which included team scenarios to work through and individual skills tests, including bike riding, vehicle cone course, physical agility and a triathlon. Post 106’s Explorers who were not competing participated in the competition by serving as scenario actors. Each team that entered participated in eight scenarios drawn from amongst 16 scenarios offered in the schedule.

“This year’s state competition was by far the toughest competition ever,” said ECSO Deputy and Lead Advisor Jeff Prater. “Several of the scenarios had been totally rewritten and were different from anything ever done before. One of the hardest ones was the active shooter scenario, which had an officer down (who had been shot) that the team had to locate and, unbeknown to the team, there was an off-duty officer in the scenario who had one of the bad guys detained.

“If the Explorers rushed in too fast they would see the officer holding up his badge; if they moved too slow the bad guy might get away,” he said. “Just after they located the off-duty officer, another bad guy opened fire on them and then another bad guy opened fire on them from behind. It was one of the toughest scenarios I have ever seen.”

In the scenario competitions, ECSO Explorer Team A, which was composed of Capt. Colten Prater, Lt. Gage Adams, Sgt. Shelby Snodgress and Sgt. Ross McRee, received the following awards en route to the second overall team placing:

  • first place – bomb threat
  • first place – burglary in progress
  • second place – arrest, search and seizure
  • second place – gang activity
  • second place – traffic stop – felony investigation
  • third place – crime scene investigation

“This year, our A team’s average score in the eight scenarios was 96.5 percent, which earned them second place at the state competition,” Prater said. “The first place team from Dallas PD’s average score in their eight scenarios was 97.5 percent. This was the closest score between the two top teams in the history of the TLEEAA State Competition.”

ECSO Explorer Team B, which was composed of Cpl. Brandy Slusher, Matthew Aguilar, Tristan McQueen and Braden Prater, received the following awards in the scenario competitions en route to placing as the 23rd overall team:

  • first place – active shooter
  • first place – intoxicated driver
  • second place – traffic stop – misdemeanor investigation

ECSO Explorer Team C, which was composed of Cpl. Nadir Garcia, Isaiah Patrick Bias, Courtney Cline and Luis Martinez Jr., received the following award in the scenario competitions en route to placing as the 37th overall team:

  • first place – robbery

“Our B team’s average score on their eight scenarios was 89.5 percent, which placed them 23rd overall, and our C team ranked 37th overall,” Prater said.

Of the 96 teams that entered the state meet, 93 finished the competition. The final top five overall team placings were Dallas Police Department Post 3305, first place; Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Post 106, second place; Plano Police Department Post 911, third place; Irving Police Department Post 252, fourth place; and Harris County Sheriff’s Office Post 41, fifth place.

“Out of 96 teams that entered this year’s state competition, I have to say I am so proud of our Explorers,” Prater said. “The group of Explorers that we have are going to do great things one day. Mark my words, these young people will truly help make the world a better place, just like the Explorer motto, ‘Our Best Today for a Better Tomorrow.’ ”

Additional honors received by Post 106 included $750 scholarships to Explorers Colten Prater and Gage Adams. Post 106 also took first place in the video competition.

“As always, I’m very proud of the young men and women in our Exploring program,” said Sheriff Johnny Brown. “These kids go way above and beyond what the requirements are. Besides their training, they give a tremendous amount of community service hours.

“Our lead advisor, Deputy Jeff Prater, is doing a great job,” Brown said. “I want to thank him for his dedication and also thank his assistant advisors, Investigator Ryan Connelly, Deputy Ella Cheek and Deputy Jeremy Osteen, for all of their hard work being at the state competition to coach the teams. I want to thank our Training Division deputies who also helped out at the state meet as judges and all of our other deputies who make time for these kids.”

For more information on the Ellis County Sheriff's Office Exploring program, contact Deputy Jeff Prater by email at jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us or by calling 972-825-4934. The Post's website is www.ecsoexplorers.com.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

Explorers participating in summer academies co-hosted by ECSO

Waxahachie, Texas – July 14, 2015

Three Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers recently completed a Basic Explorer Academy co-hosted by the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, Coppell Police Department, Irving Police Department and Colleyville Police Department. The two-week basic academy was sponsored by the American Legion and was held at the Irving Police and Fire Academy.

The three ECSO Explorers, Jon Anthony, Noel Campbell and Remi Gomez, were among 24 Explorers in attendance, with Campbell voted in as president of the class. Other Explorer posts represented by members were Colleyville, Coppell, Irving, Keller, Little Elm and Trophy Club.

At the academy, the each of the Explorers was assigned to one of three squads: Alpha, Bravo and Charlie. ECSO Explorer Hannah Littles, who graduated from last year’s basic academy, returned this year as a volunteer to serve as Charlie Squad leader.

The basic academy begins with team building exercises before moving into marching drills and physical training. Each Explorer is put through the Learning for Life fitness evaluation on the first day and each day begins with physical training before moving into skills training exercises. Afternoons are typically spent in classroom study.

Topics covered included the Code of Criminal Procedure, handcuffing, use of force, traffic enforcement, misdemeanor and felony traffic stops, domestic disturbances, DWI investigation, building searches, bomb investigation and crime scene investigation. Physical skills training included completion of a U.S. Marine Corps obstacle course, rappelling exercises and defensive tactics.

A special activity saw the Explorers take part in a memorial run to the Officer Aubrey Hawkins Memorial. Hawkins was serving as an Irving police officer when he was gunned down and killed by escaped convicts after responding to a report of a sporting goods store.

The co-hosting agencies also have put together an Advanced Explorer Academy that will see its inaugural class this summer. About a dozen ECSO Explorers are expected to attend the specialized one-week school from July 20-24. To attend the advanced academy, an Explorer must have graduated from the basic academy and have a minimum of one year’s experience.

The advanced academy will include participation in specialized training scenarios, high and low ropes courses, rappelling exercises and several advanced skills topics. Instructors at this year’s academy have more than 70 years of Exploring experience between them, according to ECSO Deputy and Explorer Advisor Jeff Prater, who says, “We’re helping them (the Explorers) with the knowledge that we have.”

For more information about the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Exploring Program, contact Deputy Jeff Prater by email at jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us or by telephone at 972-825-4934.

 


 

ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 

ECSO Explorers participate in flag presentation for Friends of Scouting event

Waxahachie, Texas – May 20, 2015

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office’s Explorer Post recently participated in a flag presentation at the Friends of Scouting event, which is an annual fundraiser for the Boy Scouts of America’s Circle 10 Council. The event, which was held at the Omni Hotel in downtown Dallas, drew 1,250 guests, including Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, H. Ross Perot, Trevor Rees Jones (founder and chairman of Chief Oil & Gas), and Ray and Nancy Hunt (owners of Hunt Oil). The Explorers assisted with the 50-American flag presentation and also a meet-and-greet with attendees. Explorer Capt. Colten Prater was asked to speak at the event about his favorite part of being an Explorer and shared with the crowd, “Being involved with my community, being a role model and preparing for a career in law enforcement.”



ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorer Capt. Colten Prater accepted into National Leadership Academy

Waxahachie, Texas – May 16, 2015

Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Capt. Colten Prater has been accepted into the U.S. Marshals National Leadership Academy. The one-week academy will be held in July in Washington, D.C. Prater, 20, is the son of Jeff and Shawna Prater of The Colony. He has been an Explorer the past seven years, the last two with the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office’s Explorer Post.

Exploring has taught him “how to be a leader, responsibility, urgency, compassion and patience,” he says, saying that he applied to the Leadership Academy “because I know that it will be a great experience for me and I want to be able to bring back what I learned to the Explorers.

I expect to learn more about myself along with more ways I can use to influence the people around me and to become a better leader,” he said.I will share the gained knowledge with others the best way I know how to and that is by putting them in my shoes when I share with them the information I learned.”

During his tenure as an Explorer, Prater has received many honors, including Explorer of the Year, two Community Service Awards and a Life Saving Award. He has been a member of a top five placing team at the state Texas Law Enforcement Explorer Advisor Association state championship the past four years. In 2014, as post captain, Prater led his four-person Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer team to first place overall honors at the TLEEAA state championship, setting a new state record with a 99.75 out of a possible 100 score. He also has led his team to several other first place awards in other competitions held throughout the state.

As an individual in the state competition’s physical agility competition, Prater has taken top honors the past four years and, in 2014, broke his previous state record score. Other honors he has earned as a Law Enforcement Explorer include National Law Enforcement Explorer Conference, Distinguished Physical Fitness Award, Firearms Training, Drug Abuse Prevention, Emergency Preparedness, Law Enforcement Service, Law Enforcement Training, Crime Prevention, Community Service, Color Guard, Explorer Academy Attendance and Tenure. In 2015, he has received the Gold Presidential Service Award and the Career Achievement Award.

Earlier this spring, Prater and his fellow Explorers from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post were honored with resolutions at the state Capitol and have previously been honored with a proclamation by the Ellis County Commissioners Court.

“I have been all across the state and nation seeing how Exploring posts conduct their meetings and how they train,” Prater said. “Not once have I come across a group of young men and women who are so dedicated not only to themselves, but to their team and Exploring post. The men and women of the Ellis County Sheriff Explorers post are a close group of individuals who treat each other as family instead of friends: that if one of them is in need of help, they all stand up ready to do so.

“To me this is what Exploring is about,” Prater said. “It’s not the trophies or competitions, but building a family and having relationships that last a lifetime. The young men and women of this post have taught me this and I am grateful.”

Prater’s future plans include a career in law enforcement, either with the state troopers or the U.S. Marshal’s Service.

Only 90 Explorers from around the nation were selected for this summer’s academies sponsored by Learning for Life. In all, four Explorers from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Exploring Post were accepted. Besides Prater, Explorer Lt. Gage Adams, Explorer Sgt. Shelby Snodgress and Explorer Sgt. Trevor Snodgress were all accepted to this summer’s academies.



ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorer Lt. Gage Adams selected for National Leadership Academy

Waxahachie, Texas – May 16, 2015

Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Lt. Gage Adams has been accepted into the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration National Leadership Academy. The one-week academy will be held in June in Washington, D.C.

Adams, 18, is the son of Darrin and Amy Adams of Waxahachie. He is a 2014 graduate of Life School in Waxahachie and is a freshman at Navarro College. He has been with the Sheriff’s Office’s Explorer Post for about three years.

“Exploring has taught me a lot about the side of law enforcement everyday people don’t always get to see,” he said. “Especially now that there is a mass distrust of the police, we as Explorers are privileged to see that the police are genuine and caring individuals.”

Adams applied to the academy because “I wanted to better myself so that I can make those around me better. I don’t exactly know what I’ll be doing there, but I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun and I’ll learn a lot, too.”

As part of the instruction and experience, he does expect to learn about the DEA’s leadership “and basically how to be a great leader. I want to learn how to lead so I can do just that on a higher level than I have been.” 

Upon his return from the academy, Adams says he’ll apply what he learned and pass on the knowledge he gained to his fellow Explorers.

“There are a bunch of great young adults there that I really want to see succeed and I want to do anything I can to see that they do succeed in whatever it is that they want to accomplish,” he said. “I believe I’m a good teacher and I plan to teach my fellow Explorers what I’ve learned through training, real world experiences and by spending time with them and growing as a family.”

As an Explorer, Adams has been honored with two presidential service awards for accumulating more than 250 community service hours in one year. He’s also been named in two resolutions issued by the Texas House of Representatives, a resolution by the Texas Senate and a proclamation by the Ellis County Commissioners Court for his accomplishments as a member of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Exploring Post. Adams was a member of the four-member team that won first place overall honors at the 2014 Texas Law Enforcement Explorer Advisor Association’s state competition. He also serves as a member of the post’s color guard, which has been honored to present the colors for U.S. Congressman Joe Barton at several activities.

“Exploring is a great program that really goes a long way toward teaching teenagers and young adults about careers they are interested in,” Adams said. “Exploring not only prepares you for your career but it also helps you become a better person. Our Exploring post is unique because we are so tightly knit. We are really like a family. And I can say the Explorers are 18 of my closest, best and truest friends.” 

Adams’ career plans are to join law enforcement locally, either as a deputy with the Sheriff’s Office ECSO or as an officer with the Waxahachie or Red Oak police departments.

“I like my hometown so I don’t plan on going anywhere,” he said. “After I get a few years of experience under my belt I will try and apply for positions in federal agencies like the DEA or ATF, while still trying to stay somewhat local.” 

Only 90 Explorers from around the nation were selected for this summer’s academies sponsored by Learning for Life. In all, four Explorers from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Exploring Post were accepted. Besides Adams, Explorer Capt. Colten Prater, Explorer Sgt. Shelby Snodgress and Explorer Sgt. Trevor Snodgress were all accepted to this summer’s academies.



ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorer Sgt. Shelby Snodgress accepted into National Leadership Academy

Waxahachie, Texas – May 16, 2015

Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Sgt. Shelby Snodgress has been accepted into the U.S. Marshals National Leadership Academy. The one-week academy will be held in July in Washington, D.C. Snodgress, 18, is the daughter of Marc and Cheryl Snodgress of Waxahachie and is a three-year member of the Sheriff’s Office’s Explorer Post.

“I applied to the U.S. Marshals Leadership Academy because I felt it was better tailored to my future goals,” Snodgress said, noting the academy will include “lots of sightseeing, team building exercises and opportunities to learn better ways to work as a team.”

“I honestly don’t know what to expect, but I know I’m going to come away a better leader and a better Explorer,” said Snodgress, who credits Exploring for the skills she has developed so far. “Explorers has taught me how to have command presence, how to build confidence and how to work together on teams with different people.

“I will definitely do my best to just soak everything in and bring what they teach back to Texas so I can continue to help make our post a better one,” she said. “I would share what I learned after sitting down with our head advisor and talking over what I learned – and what we can implement into our post.”

Among her accomplishments, Snodgress lists membership on the four-person Sheriff’s Office Explorer team that placed first overall at the 2014 Texas Law Enforcement Explorer Advisors Association state competition.

As an Explorer and as a member of the Sheriff’s Office’s Exploring Post command staff, Snodgress says she has “the opportunity to be a positive influence on young people that maybe aren’t going down the right paths in their lives. That wouldn’t be able to happen without being in Explorers: being able to go on ride-outs and learning, having deputies in my life and other Explorers’ lives to look up to as role models, and then turning around and being able to serve as a role model to the Explorers that are under my care.

“It’s knowing that, as an Explorer, I’m making a difference,” she says. “I’m giving young people the opportunity that I had to see that maybe law enforcement is the path that they want to travel down. It’s being able to encourage others, to push them to discover the potential that I see in them. If I didn’t have my advisor and a couple Explorers pushing me, encouraging me, I never would’ve been able to reach my full potential and realize that I can be a law enforcement officer.”

Snodgress’ future plans include going into the U.S. Air Marshals Service and, after finishing her service with that agency, possibly coming back to become a canine officer.

Only 90 Explorers from around the nation were selected for this summer’s academies sponsored by Learning for Life. In all, four Explorers from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Exploring Post were accepted. Besides Snodgress, Explorer Capt. Colten Prater, Explorer Lt. Gage Adams and Explorer Sgt. Trevor Snodgress were all accepted to this summer’s academies.



ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorer Sgt. Trevor Snodgress accepted into National Leadership Academy

Waxahachie, Texas – May 16, 2015

Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Sgt. Trevor Snodgress has been accepted into the U.S. Army Military Police National Leadership Academy. The one-week academy will be held in July at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Snodgress, 20, is the son of Marc and Cheryl Snodgress of Waxahachie. He has been an Explorer the past five years.

“Explorers has taught me unity, it has taught me how to be a leader, it has taught me how to work as a team and that I need to rely on my team mates, it has also taught me where I need to step up in some of my roles in my post and in my life,” Snodgress says of the program.

He applied for the U.S. Army Military Police academy because he wants to serve in the military.

“I’m not sure which branch I am wanting to go into, but I know I’m wanting to go in,” he said. “Another reason why I chose this is because my grandfather was a military police officer and it will kind of show me what he did. I am also hoping this academy will teach me better leadership skills and how I can improve in my physical fitness.”

At the academy, the Explorers’ training will include team work development, patrol incidents, military police confinement operations, unarmed self-defense, physical endurance course, special reaction team and room clearing, weapon familiarization with several different weapons systems, confidence course, non-lethal demonstration and familiarization, weapons assembly/disassembly, engagement skills trainer, and shotgun/M9 range training.  

“I am super excited and ready to go,” Snodgress said. “I hope to learn a lot, including how to work with people I have never met or worked with before, along with new leadership skills and how I can bring it back with me to my post and teach the younger Explorers.” 

Snodgress plans to apply the leadership skills he learns to his everyday activities with family and friends as well as his activities with the Explorers.

“I will bring back what I learn and share with the rest of my Explorer post what I learned and how we can use it in our post to make it better and stronger as a family,” he said.

As a Sheriff’s Office Explorer, Snodgress has taken part in numerous competitions, earning several honors for which he and his fellow Explorers have been recognized at the state Capitol and by the Ellis County Commissioners Court. April 30, he took part in a flag presentation for a Scouting event that drew Gov. Greg Abbott’s attendance. At the end of last year, Snodgress also became a youth leader for his youth group.

“Explorers has taught me a lot of skills and personal traits that I would not have learned if I didn't join the Explorer post,” he said. “What I would say to all the young people out there is, if there is an Explorer post near you, join it. It will keep you out of trouble; it will show you the side of law enforcement that you either don’t see or that the news media doesn’t show. It may open your eyes to a career that you didn’t know was available.”

Snodgress’ future plans include joining the military, becoming an officer and going to college. After serving in the military, he wants to work in law enforcement or for a federal agency.

Only 90 Explorers from around the nation were selected for this summer’s academies sponsored by Learning for Life. In all, four Explorers from the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Exploring Post were accepted. Besides Snodgress, Explorer Capt. Colten Prater, Explorer Lt. Gage Adams and Explorer Sgt. Shelby Snodgress were all accepted to this summer’s academies.

 


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers take second place honors in Battle at Big D competition

Waxahachie, Texas – April 4, 2015

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post took second place honors in the Dallas Police Department’s Battle at Big D Explorer Competition, held April 4 at Fair Park. The four-member team representing the Post at the event included ECSO Explorer Capt. Colten Prater, Lt. Gage Adams, Sgt. Shelby Snodgress and Sgt. Trevor Snodgress.

The ECSO Explorers were one of 24 four-member teams competing in the invitation-only competition. Taking first place honors was the Waxahachie Police Department Explorer Post, with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post taking third.

The Dallas Police Explorers’ Facebook page described the event as “extremely competitive” before adding, “The future of policing is looking very bright. All Explorer teams did a great job and deserve a round of applause.”

Also taking part in the event were Explorer teams representing the Irving Police Department, Southwest High School, Lackland Security Forces, Customs and Border Protection, Brownsville High School, Border Patrol, Forest Hill Police Department, Travis County Constables Pct. 2, Quinlan ISD, Murphy Police Department, Arlington Police Department, Little Elm Police Department, and Brandeis High School.

 


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers honored at Texas State Capitol

Austin, Texas – March 11, 2015

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Explorers Post 106 was honored March 11, 2015, at the Texas State Capitol for its members’ service and accomplishments, including its state championship title received at the 2014 Texas Law Enforcement Explorer Advisors Association competition.

The Explorers were honored with proclamations in both the state House and the state Senate during the 84th Legislative Session. Joining the Explorers for the gallery recognitions in both bodies were family members and friends, Lead Advisor Jeff Prater and Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown.

State Rep. John Wray and state Sen. Brian Birdwell each addressed the Explorers and noted their competition record as well as their contributions to the community as part of the Presidential Volunteer Service Award program.

As part of the field trip to Austin, Wray's staff arranged for several tours and speakers, including members of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Sheriff's Association of Texas.

 


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers take first, third overall team titles in Austin competition

Waxahachie, Texas – Feb. 27, 2015

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post took first and third place overall team honors among more than 50 teams that competed at the recent Central Texas Law Enforcement Explorer Competition in Austin. The one-day competition, which was sponsored by the Austin Police Department, Austin Police Department Explorer Post and the Travis County Constable’s Office, was held at Akins High School.

The ECSO Explorer Post took two teams to the competition. Team 1 included Explorers Capt. Colten Prater, Lt. Gage Adams, Sgt. Shelby Snodgress and Sgt. Trevor Snodgress. Team 2 included Explorers Cpl. Ross McRee, Matthew Aguilar, Nadir Garcia and Brandy Slusher. Each team participated in four scenarios, which were randomly drawn at the start of the competition.

Final results saw Team 1 taking first place in accident investigation/scenario A, first place in arrest and search/scenario A, first place in domestic disturbance/scenario A and second place in active shooter/scenario A.

Team 2 took first place in officer down/scenario B, first place in domestic disturbance/scenario B, second place in arrest and search/scenario B and third place in active shooter/scenario B.

In the individual competition, Colten Prater took second place in the physical agility course.

At the end of the competition, ECSO Explorer Post Team 1 was awarded first place overall honors. A Dallas Police Department Explorer Post team took second place overall honors and ECSO Explorer Post Team 2 was awarded third place overall honors.

“I am very happy and very pleased,” said ECSO Deputy and Lead Advisor Jeff Prater. “I was not expecting this. The scenarios were really good. This was Austin’s first time to host a competition and it ended up being a very good one.”

He said the judges had high praise for Team 1’s work in the accident investigation scenario. “Ours was the only team that successfully filled out every blank on the crash report,” Prater said. “The judge said nobody else even got close to what we did – and we did the entire scenario in less than 45 minutes. After they drew accident investigation as a scenario, the Explorers strategically planned out how they would work it; they divided the duties out and conquered it.”

Team 2 drew high praise for its handling of its officer down scenario, where they were initially told they had to enter a school where there was an active shooter and locate an injured school resource officer and evacuate him. Once the scenario began, they encountered also frightened students, injured students and a teacher who was suffering a heart attack. “The judges said they were the only team that was able to calm the students down and recognize that they could direct the uninjured students to help with first aid and the evacuation,” Prater said. “They ended up saving everybody and getting everybody out. The judges complimented the team and said the scenario was done perfectly.”

The Austin competition served as a warm-up for this summer’s state competition, where the ECSO Explorers took overall post first place honors in 2014. The next competition up for the ECSO Post will be in April at the second annual Battle of Big D, where ECSO Explorers took overall team honors at the 2014 inaugural meet.

In other activities, the Explorers assisted with a Skills USA competition Friday and in the upcoming week will provide honor/color guard services for Congressman Joe Barton and Gov. Greg Abbott at their events in the Metroplex. During spring break, the ECSO Explorers also will take a day trip to the state Legislature, where they will be recognized for their 2014 state championship.

For more information on the ECSO Explorer Post, contact Deputy Jeff Prater by emailing jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us or by calling 972-825-4934. Keep up with the Post’s activities on its Facebook page Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

Deputy Jeff Prater receives highest award from Learning for Life

Waxahachie, Texas – Nov. 20, 2014

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office extends its congratulations to Deputy and Explorer Advisor Jeff Prater, who was named the 2014 William H. Spurgeon III Award by the Boy Scouts and Learning for Life.

The award was presented to Prater during the annual Whitney M. Young Jr. and Character Luncheon at the Omni in downtown Dallas on Nov. 14. The event was attended by Boy Scout personnel from throughout the Circle 10 area

Prater joined the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office in 2012. “At the time Jeff came to us, our law enforcement exploring program was going through some tough times because of the departure of the program’s advisor,” Sheriff Johnny Brown said. “Jeff’s name was given to us as an experienced officer and a successful Explorer advisor so we began to recruit him. Jeff worked hard with the Explorers and took a crippled program consisting of a few people to a fully staffed competitive one that took best in state this last summer. He has done a remarkable job.”

The Spurgeon Award is the highest recognition given for individuals contributing significant leadership to the Exploring Program. The award was created in 1971 to honor Spurgeon, who is regarded as the major leader in the development of special interest Exploring such as law enforcement Explorers.

“The cream of the crop has risen to the top and Jeff Prater is his name,” Brown said. “Thank you, Jeff, for all you have done for our program. You are an exemplary leader.”


 

ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers place third at Plano X Extreme Explorer Competition

Waxahachie, Texas – Oct. 31, 2014

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers took third place honors out of 10 teams competing in the recent, invitation-only Plano X Extreme Explorer Competition.

Representing the ECSO Explorer Post as a three-person team were Capt. Colten Prater, Sgt. Shelby Snodgress and Cpl. Gage Adams.

“As an advisor, I have attended this competition for the last six years and this was by far the most mental, and physical, competition I have ever seen,” ECSO Explorer Adviser Jeff Prater said. “Each one of the scenarios where the Explorers were dispatched to ended up being something entirely different. Our Explorers had to work hard for this one.”

“We are very proud of our Explorers and our Explorer Post,” Sheriff Johnny Brown said. “Their dedication to the program is to be commended. They set goals for themselves and then work hard to achieve those goals. What they are learning is more than just law enforcement procedures and techniques, they are learning life skills they will be able to use anywhere.”

The Plano X competition began at 6 p.m. with a debriefing and ended at 6 a.m. the next morning. Throughout the night, the three-member Explorer teams competed in 10 event scenarios.

“These were all high stress and extremely physical, forcing our Explorers to use defensive tactics against multiple attackers,” Prater said. “The event scenarios ranged from a group of terrorists actively torturing someone to a vehicle pursuit, suicide by cop, homicide and many more.”

Plano X officials said the top three teams’ scores were separated by a mere three points, representing the closest scoring in the event’s history. The Dallas Police Department Northwest Division Explorer Post took first place, with second place going to San Antonio PD Explorer Post and third place to the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post.

The Waxahachie PD Explorer Post took fourth place, with the U.S. Border Patrol Explorer Post taking fifth. The remaining teams included The Colony PD Explorer Post (sixth), Irving PD Explorer Post (seventh), Richardson PD Explorer Post (eighth), Dallas PD Northeast Division Explorer Post (ninth) and Coppell PD Explorer Post (10th).


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers honored for volunteerism

Waxahachie, Texas – Aug. 11, 2014

Five Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers have been awarded the President’s Volunteer Service Award. This is a national program open to all U.S. citizens and legal residents.

The awards are based on the recipient’s age and the number of volunteer hours served in a calendar year.

Each of the Explorers received a lapel pin, a certificate of completion, and a letter from President Obama thanking them for their service.

In the age 14 and younger youth division, the honorees included Nadir Garcia, who received a Gold Award for volunteering 101 hours, and Matthew Aguilar, who received a Silver Award for volunteering 92 hours.

In the age 15 to 25 young adult division, Gage Adams, Brandy Slusher and Shelby Snodgress received Bronze Awards after volunteering 152, 128 and 164 hours, respectively.

The President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation administers the awards program, which was established in 2003 and continues as an initiative of the Corporation for National and Community Service.

For more information on the program, visit online at http://www.presidentialserviceawards.gov. For more information about the Ellis County Sheriff’s Exploring Program contact Deputy Jeff Prater at 972-825-4934, jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us or visit them online at www.ecsoexplorers.com .

 


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers awarded overall state championship title

Waxahachie, Texas – July 23, 2014

Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 106 brought home the overall state championship trophy along with multiple plaques and medals from the 25th annual Texas Law Enforcement Explorer Advisors Association state competition July 10-13, 2014.

ECSO sent three four-person Explorer teams to the event, which drew 93 teams from across Texas and out-of-state to compete in skill scenarios and individual challenges at the University of Texas at Arlington.

The competition featured 16 different skill scenarios. Each Explorer team drew eight of the scenarios – and had to compete against 15 other teams in each of those eight scenarios over a two-day period. The competition’s individual challenges included Explorer agility, patrol unit obstacle course, bicycle obstacle course and triathlon.

Team A, composed of ECSO Explorers Capt. Colten Prater, Lt. Coby Paschall, Sgt. Shelby Snodgress and Cpl. Gage Adams, took first place honors in the arrest and search (104 points), bomb threat (104 points), gang activity (110 points) and officer down scenarios (100 points); second place in burglary; and third place in felony traffic stop.

Team B, composed of ECSO Explorers Sgt. Trevor Snodgress, Cpl. Ross McRee, Tristian McQueen and Brandy Slusher, took first place honors in the intoxicated driver and robbery scenarios, and second place in felony traffic stop.

Team C, composed of ECSO Explorers Matthew Aguilar, Isaiah Bias, Nadir Garcia and Luis Martinez, took first place honors in the robbery scenario.

The Explorer team of Prater, Paschall, S. Snodgress and Adams secured the first place overall team ranking in the state competition after achieving an average score of 99.75 over its eight scenarios.

“I knew they were in the hunt for a trophy but, certainly, the overall total average exceeded my expectations,” said Lead Advisor and Deputy Jeff Prater. “Combined, our three teams posted an average score of 86.167 across the 24 scenarios they competed in. I was shocked with that; that’s an excellent overall post score.”

Rounding out the top five overall were teams from Arlington Police Department (second place), Harris County Sheriff’s Office (third place), Plano Police Department (fourth place) and Harris County Sheriff’s Office (fifth place).

The ECSO Explorers also participated in the individual competitions, with C. Prater taking first place in the agility event, his fourth time to take the top honor.

During Sunday’s award ceremony, the TLEEAA board of directors also announced 10 $500 scholarship winners; ECSO Explorers receiving scholarships based on their essays were C. Prater and S. Snodgress.

“I am very proud of these young men and women,” Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown said. “I'm proud of them for their achievements at the state competition and I'm even more proud of how they approach whatever they do with professionalism and dedication.

“Ellis County is well represented by our Explorers,” he said.

Since taking over the post and about five youth in 2012, J. Prater has overseen the young program as it has grown to include 17 Explorers, of whom only three have more than two and a half years of experience. Team C members, all rookies, had less than six months’ experience each before heading to the state competition.

“It’s not about winning trophies,” J. Prater said of the Explorers. “It’s about learning something and working together as a team to get through the difficulties ahead.”

He’s not concerned about the youth resting on their laurels. “They’re consistently striving to do better,” he said. “It’s hard for me to keep up with them. We got back from competition and they’re already asking, ‘What are we doing next week?’ ”

The post keeps a busy schedule. The Monday after the state meet, the Explorers assisted with reserve deputy testing at the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office. On Wednesday, they traveled to Navarro County to serve as actors during an active-shooter training for law enforcement at the Navarro College campus. Next month, they’ll assist Italy Police Department with a similar training and also volunteer their help at Midlothian ISD’s Back to School Bash.

“They have such self-motivation,” J. Prater said. “They consistently have the drive to do better without being told. They’ve become one tight family; they’re bonded and they do things together outside of Exploring.”

The post’s three assisting advisors include ECSO Deputy Ella Cheek, Investigator Ryan Connelly and Cpl. Jeremy Osteen. “Without them, it wouldn’t be possible,” J. Prater said. “Without the other deputies, the parents and the support and cooperation of the sheriff’s office, this post probably wouldn’t be half of what it is today.”

Along with their community service projects, the Explorers will resume their training and may participate in an in-state competition this fall. Several guest speakers also are lined up to talk with the youth in the upcoming weeks, including a Texas Parks and Wildlife game warden, U.S. Marshal’s Office, U.S. Dignitary Security Service, the Texas Attorney General’s Office and others.

Interested youth are invited to attend any of the ECSO Explorer meetings, which are held at 6 p.m. every Tuesday at the Law Enforcement Center, located at 2272 Farm-to-Market 878, Waxahachie, TX, 75165, (at the County Farm on Farm-to-Market 878), east of U.S. Highway 287.

Reach the program supervisor, Deputy Jeff Prater, by emailing jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us or by calling 972-825-4934.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers participate in 80-hour Academy

Waxahachie, Texas – July 1, 2014

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Explorers participated in an Explorers Academy this summer co-hosted by ECSO, Coppell Police Department and Irving Police Department. Also participating in the academy was the Colleyville Police Department Explorer Post.

The academy encompassed 80 hours of training (physical, classroom and scenario-based) over a two-week period. Topics covered included Texas law, defensive tactics, traffic stops, crime scene search, arrest and search warrants, crisis negotiation and gang activity, among others. Additional challenges included completing a USMC-standard obstacle course, rappelling off a building and a bicycle obstacle course. The Explorers also participated in firearms training and were able to watch a police service dog demonstration.

ECSO had 15 Explorers at the academy, which drew 34 Explorers total from the four agencies.

“We mixed them up into four different groups so they had to interact with kids they didn’t know,” ECSO Explorer Advisor and Deputy Jeff Prater said. “We did this to take them out of the comfort zone. By the end of the two weeks, all of the explorers had now made new friends for life.”

The academy was a long-time dream held by Prater and Trevor Grisso, who serves as the advisor for Coppell PD’s Explorer Post. Prater worked at Coppell before joining ECSO in 2012.

“We wanted to set up an academy where we could run the Explorers through and give them some additional training,” Prater said. “This is what we would consider a basic academy. Our goal is to hold a basic academy again next year and also host an advanced academy for the Explorers who went through the basic one this year.”

ECSO Explorers participating in the academy were Capt. Colten Prater (who served as an assistant instructor), Sgt. Trevor Snodgress, Sgt. Shelby Snodgress, Cpl. Gage Adams, Cpl. Ross McRee, Matthew Aguilar, Isaiah Bias, Courtney Cline, Nadir Garcia, Luis Martinez, Tristian McQueen, Brandy Slusher, Braden Prater, Jsin Taylor, Cain Mitchell and Hannah Littles.

All of the participating Explorers earned an academy service bar award to wear on their uniforms. Two ECSO Explorers – McRee and B. Prater – earned the Learning for Life Physical Fitness service bar award. ECSO Explorers also participated in the NRA Marksmanship firearms qualification course, and those who qualified were awarded the firearm service bar award. ECSO Explorers who qualified were T. Snodgress, S. Snodgress, Adams, McRee, Aguilar, Bias, Cline, Martinez, McQueen, Slusher, B. Prater, Taylor, Mitchell and Littles.

For more information about the ECSO Explorer program, visit the post’s website at www.ecsoexplorers.com, email jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us or call 972-825-4934.


 

ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers honored as Best Overall Team at ‘Battle at Big D’ competition

Waxahachie, Texas – April 24, 2014

Members of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post were honored as Best Overall Team in the “Battle at Big D Explorer Competition,” which was hosted by the Dallas Police Department at Fair Park on April 19.

Ellis County, along with 20 other Explorer posts from around Texas, took part in the competition, which consisted of four of the most dangerous scenarios law enforcement officers face every day. The event scenarios included Arrest & Search, Burglary-In-Progress, Felony Traffic Stop and Robbery-In-Progress. 

Ellis County Sheriff’s Explorers took first place in Arrest & Search, first place in Burglary-In-Progress and second place in Felony Traffic Stop. The team was awarded Best Overall Team after all 20 teams’ scores were totaled.

The Ellis County Explorer team consisted of Explorer Capt. Colten Prater, Explorer Lt. Coby Paschall, Explorer Sgt. Shelby Snodgress and Explorer Cpl. Gage Adams.

“We are very proud of the young men and women who are part of our Explorer program,” Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown said. “They’re dedicated and professional. They train hard and approach every challenge with their best. It’s our pleasure to support them in their endeavors.”

Law Enforcement Exploring is for young men and women 14 to 20 years of age who have an interest in law enforcement. Exploring is part of the Learning for Life program, which is a division of the Boy Scouts of America.  

For more information about the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Exploring Program, visit its website at www.ecsoexplorers.com or contact Deputy Jeff Prater at 972-825-4935 or email him at jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us.

Cutline info: From left, Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Lt. Coby Paschall, Capt. Colten Prater, Sgt. Shelby Snodgress and Cpl. Gage Adams.


 

ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorer Color Guard Team participates in Congressman Barton event

Waxahachie, Texas – March 24, 2014

The Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Color Guard Team had the honor of presenting the colors at U.S. Congressman Joe Barton’s “Happy Birthday, Texas” party in Mansfield. Shown are, from left, Sgt. Shelby Snodgress; Cpl. Gage Adams; Capt. Colten Prater; Congressman Barton and his son, Jack; Lead Explorer Adviser and Deputy Jeff Prater; Explorer Isaiah Bias, who sang the national anthem; Sgt. Trevor Snodgress; and Cpl. Ross McRee.


 

ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorer awarded scholarship

Waxahachie, Texas – March 12, 2014

Colten Prater, who serves as captain of Ellis County Sheriff’s Explorer Post, was awarded a $500 academic scholarship from the Sheriffs’ Association of Texas. A 2012 graduate of The Colony High School, Colten is in his sophomore year of studies at Collin County Community College, where he is majoring in Criminal Justice. His career goal is to become a federal law enforcement officer with the U.S. Marshal’s Office.

Colten is the son of Jeff and Shawna Prater. Jeff Prater serves as a Deputy with the ECSO Training Division and as Lead Advisor over the ECSO Explorer Post. 

Shown are, from left, Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown, Colten Prater and Deputy Jeff Prater.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers honored at state competition

Waxahachie, Texas – July 30, 2013

Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorer Post 106 brought home multiple trophies, plaques and medals, including third place overall team honors, from the Texas Law Enforcement Explorer Advisors Association state competition July 19-21, 2013.

ECSO sent two four-person Explorer teams to the event, which drew 75 teams from across Texas and out-of-state to compete in skill scenarios and individual challenges at the University of Texas at Arlington.

The competition featured 16 different skill scenarios, with each team competing in eight over a two-day period. The individual challenges included Explorer agility, patrol unit obstacle course, bicycle obstacle course and triathlon.

Team A, composed of Explorers Tristan Almanzar, Ross McRee, Coby Paschall and Shelby Snodgress, took second place in crisis negotiation, third place in DWI enforcement and third place in domestic crisis scenarios.

Team B, composed of Explorers Gage Adams, Colten Prater, Brandy Slusher and Trevor Snodgress, took first place in burglary in progress, second place in crime scene investigation, third place in gang activity, third place in officer down rescue and third place in misdemeanor traffic stop scenarios.

The Explorer team of Adams, Prater, Slusher and T. Snodgress was honored as third place overall team in the state competition for its score average and cumulative time across the eight scenarios in which it competed. Rounding out the top five overall were teams from Harris County SO (first place), Plano PD (second place), Dallas PD (fourth) and Arlington PD (fifth).

Several of the ECSO Explorers participated in the individual competitions, with Prater taking first place in the agility event, where he set a new state record with a time of 31 seconds.

“I am very proud of our Explorers,” Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown said. “I'm proud of them for their achievements at the state competition but I'm even more proud of how these young men and women have handled several challenges that came their way during the past year.

“Ours is a young post that has had to rebuild after a change in advisors and after several experienced members chose to exit the program,” Brown said. “This makes our Explorers' accomplishments at the state competition all the more remarkable.”

Explorer Advisor, Deputy Jeff Prater, took over the post and about five youth less than a year ago. “Most of our Explorers are rookies,” Prater said. “Only three – Colten, Coby and Trevor – have more than a year and a half of experience in Exploring. We lost a couple, gained some and, right now, we’re sitting at about 12 kids.”

In preparing the Explorers for the state competition, Prater said he told them, “The most important thing is to go out there and have fun. Give it 100-percent because, if you do, you can be proud of your name on that paper.”

“I told the kids that, if we don’t win a single trophy, as long as they can look me in the eye and tell me they gave it their best then I’m happy,” said Prater, who was “pleasantly surprised” with his teams’ placement when considering their overall inexperience.

The judges’ score sheets included praise for the two ECSO Explorer teams’ teamwork and communication skills in working through the different scenarios.

“They were really impressed with them,” said Prater, who’s admittedly proud of the Explorers but who also notes that prizes aren’t the goal.

“Winning awards and plaques is not nearly as important as learning life lessons,” Prater said. “We would rather they learn and not win a single trophy. (Competition wins) are not what we care about and not what the world is about.”

Assistant Advisors, Deputies Ella Cheek and Ryan Connelly, helped at the state competition.

“They’re a great team,” said Cheek, who worked with Team A. “They’re a great team and communicated well. I saw their teamwork in every scenario as they strategized. I’m glad I got to be a part of the competition.”

Connelly, who worked with Team B, also noted the Explorers’ communication skills and teamwork during the competition.

“They did well in all of the scenarios,” he said. “It’s been fun to work with them.”

Prater, who was just elected to a two-year term as secretary of the TLEEAA board, said the association has plans to continue improving the state experience, possibly including another day of competition to allow Explorers to compete in 12 of the 16 scenarios for which they train.

Prater expressed his appreciation to Post 106’s assistant advisors, parents and scenario actors who helped out at the state competition, along with the ECSO Training Division Deputies and Ellis County-based State Troopers, who volunteered their time to assist with the traffic investigation scenario.

“It’s very obvious to me that there are so many people who care about the Exploring program and care about our youth,” he said. “They know how important it is to keep our kids going the right way.”

Prater says his Explorers will spend the next few training sessions hearing from different speakers, including representatives from the FBI, ATF, U.S. Secret Service and the Texas Rangers. A field trip to the U.S. Marshal’s Office also is planned in the near future.

“We want to bring in different aspects of law enforcement and open up a whole world for the Explorers to see and experience,” Prater said.

The Explorers will then resume their scenario training in preparation for competitions later this fall and winter. Interested youth are invited to attend any of the ECSO Explorer meetings, which are held at 6 p.m. every Tuesday at the Law Enforcement Center, located at 2272 Farm-to-Market 878, Waxahachie, TX, 75165, (at the County Farm on Farm-to-Market 878), east of U.S. Highway 287.

Reach the program supervisor, Deputy Jeff Prater, by emailing jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us or by calling 972-825-4934.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers awarded three trophies at recent competition

Waxahachie, Texas – May 3, 2013

Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers recently attended the Harris County Law Enforcement Explorer Competition, bringing home three trophies. The four-Explorer team of Jake Granger, Coby Paschall, Shelby Snodgress and Trevor Snodgress was awarded a first place trophy in Bomb Scene, a second place trophy in DWI-SFST and a second place trophy in Misdemeanor Traffic Stop.

The ECSO Explorer team also participated in the Team Bicycle Course event, posting a combined time of 4:41.

The Harris County Constable Pct. 4 Explorer Posts hosted the one-day competition, which was held April 20 at Dekaney High School in Spring ISD, Houston. Sixty-three Explorer teams from around the state took part, with each team competing in four events. Teams drew three staged scenarios out of a possible 14 and selected either Team Bicycle Course or Team Physical Agility as their physical team event.

“All those little things we’ve been training them to do, they nailed them,” ECSO Deputy and Explorer Adviser Jeff Prater said. “We’re learning and that’s what it’s all about.”

Prater says the ECSO Explorer Post has been rebuilding and the primary goal for Harris County was to gain experience in advance of the state competition this summer. 

“I didn’t expect to win anything at the competition. I told the Explorers, ‘I expect you to have fun. All I ask is that you give me 100-percent,’ ” he said. “They did that and they did well. I’m very proud of them.”

Ellis County Sheriff Johnny Brown extended his congratulations to the Explorers.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the young men and women in this agency’s Explorer post. They have met several challenges head-on and come out the better for it. I look forward to their continued growth and development as they progress through our program,” Brown said.

To learn more about the post and its activities, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ecsoexplorers/?ref=ts&fref=ts or its website at www.ecsoexplorers.com.

The Explorer program is open to young men and women ages 14-21; they must have completed the eighth grade. The post has openings and those interested can contact Prater through the Sheriff’s Office at 972-824-4901 or by email via jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us

Interested youth also are invited to attend any of the meetings, which are held at 6 p.m. every Tuesday at the Law Enforcement Center, located at the County Farm on Farm-to-Market 878, east of U.S. Highway 287.


ELLIS COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE

Johnny Brown, Sheriff

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:        

ECSO Explorers preparing for competition

Waxahachie, Texas – Feb. 7, 2013

With more than a dozen active members, the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office Explorers Post is looking forward to – and training hard – for the competition headed its way in 2013.

During their recent practices, the Explorers have gone through scenarios involving misdemeanor and felony traffic, bomb threats and domestic violence. The post will participate in the state competition in July, with plans to attend a warm-up event in Harris County in April.

The Explorers are overseen by Deputy Jeff Prater, who serves as post adviser. Prater, who joined the Sheriff’s Office in August 2012, is a 12-year law enforcement veteran who brings seven years of experience in working with Explorers to the program.

“The Explorers are part of the reason I came to the Sheriff’s Office,” says Prater, whose instruction style places an emphasis on hands-on training. “I believe in a process that says you see it, you feel it, you touch it, you do it. You then put your hands-on experience into play.”

Although Prater wasn’t in Explorers as a youth (“I didn’t find out about the program until after I was too old to join,” he says), he is keen to impart its value and what it does for the youth who are involved.

“It does me good when I see one of my Explorers hired on at an agency,” he says, noting with particular pride one of his former charges who is now working as an Explorer adviser and a police officer. “That definitely makes me feel good.”

Participants acquire life skills alongside law enforcement ones and Prater has found much reward in watching his Explorers learn and grow.

“I really want to turn out young people who are a benefit and an asset to society,” he says. “I want to turn out people who understand that there are things in this world that are greater than they are and that it is an honor and privilege to become a public servant police officer.”

An example of the young men and women’s character can be seen with their recent fundraising effort, Prater says, noting that the Explorers had been selling T-shirts to the sheriff’s office’s deputies and detention officers as a fundraiser to help defray training expenses. They have since voted to donate part of the money raised to the Cobb family, whose home burned before Christmas and whose son was severely burned.

Besides the rigorous scenario training, the post also has a promotion process under way as it looks to fill an open captain’s position to serve with the other posts of two lieutenants and a sergeant. Prater notes that those who apply for a ranking position learn skills they will need once they enter the job market.

“They have to write a letter, pass a written test and go before two review boards, one of which includes their own peers while the other is the Explorers’ Committee Board,” Prater says. “I’m trying to make it as close as possible to the real process of how they go about getting a job or promotion.”

Plans for the summer include a two-week mini-academy that will include “very intense training,” Prater says. The Explorers will start off their day at 7 a.m. with physical training before moving into scenario training the remainder of the day. During the mini-academy, they’ll also complete a Boy Scout firearm-training program. The event will wrap up with a full day scenario that involves answering a series of mock calls.

“They will be dispatched just as if they were a real deputy,” Prater says. “Their calls could include everything from a disturbance to a possible intoxicated driver. We’ll end the day with a SWAT-type call.”

The mini-academy will conclude with an awards and recognition ceremony where the Explorers will be joined by their families.

It’s enough to keep Prater busy in addition to his regular duties with the Sheriff’s Office’s Patrol Division. Fortunately, he has the help of several people, including Lt. Bruce Stayments, several assistant advisers and the parents. “I couldn’t do it without all of their help,” he says.

The post has openings and Prater welcomes the opportunity to talk with interested youth. The program is open to young men and women ages 14-21. They must have completed the eighth grade.

To learn more about the post and its activities, visit its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ecsoexplorers/?ref=ts&fref=ts or its website at www.ecsoexplorers.com.

Prater can be contacted through the Sheriff’s Office at 972-824-4901 or email jeff.prater@co.ellis.tx.us

Interested youth also are invited to attend any of the meetings, which are held at 6 p.m. every Tuesday at the Law Enforcement Center, located at the County Farm on Farm-to-Market 878, east of U.S. Highway 287.