The NYPD Law Enforcement Exploring program is open to those under age 21 as an introduction to the police department, but only about five percent become police officers.
"Most kids that are showing up are kids who want to be part of community," said Officer McKenzie.
At the 110th Precinct in Elmhurst, a group of about 10 to 15 explorers meet once a week to volunteer their time for community service, including graffiti clean-up, feeding the homeless, and visiting hospitals. The program is run like a mini police department, where explorers learn police jargon and how to respond to the scene of a crime. The explorers are currently in the middle of flag football season against other precinct explorers. They also take field trips to museums on a monthly basis and march in uniform in parades.
According to McKenzie, the program attempts to break down the fear kids may have of the police. "Sometimes they think we're the enemy," said McKenzie. "[We just want] them to feel comfortable talking to the police."
Charles Rivera, 18, has been an explorer for almost three years. Rivera is currently a full-time student at John Jay, and said he hopes to join the NYPD or FBI after graduation.
"It’s a great program for teens 14 to 21, [and] kids in high school that want to learn more about the police department and help the community. It's good for college applications and job applications," said Rivera.
Officer McKenzie said it didn't bother her that 95 percent of the explorers don't become police officers. "I like successful kids who are moving on and doing positive things," she said.
For additional information, please contact Officer McKenzie at 718.476.8271.