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Following a brief hiatus, the Sedona Police Department’s Explorers program is back and stronger than ever.

“It gives them a good understanding as to how we function,” SPD’s Lt. Lucas Wilcoxson said of the program he started 16 years ago for teens and young adults ages 14 to 21.


Explorers is a co-educational, young-adult program developed and supervised by local community organizations, businesses and individuals providing an opportunity for young adults to explore a particular career field. And during competitions, they use the skills they’ve learned during law enforcement-related events.

The team got a chance to compare their skills against other teams throughout the state Jan. 15 to 17, at the 18th annual Chandler Tactical Competition.

“Even though this year’s competition was the first for the majority of our explorer team, they exhibited very good teamwork and communication in all of the events,” SPD Chief Ray Cota said. “I am extremely proud of our Explorer Post for the professionalism and team spirit they brought to the competition. They truly represented the city of Sedona, the Sedona Police Department and themselves in a most positive light.”

During the competition, teams faced an array of tactical, patrol and investigatory scenarios and were judged and scored on the outcome. One of the scenarios included a hostage situation.

“That one was really interesting,” Wilcoxson said. “It got them thinking and working together while figuring out what to do.”

Those interested in joining the Explorers must meet the following criteria:

  • Be between the ages of 14 to 21 years [14 years old is acceptable only if you have graduated from eighth grade].
  • Have good moral character.
  • Remain in school while in the program or until graduation.
  • Maintain a C average or higher.
  • Not have a serious police record.
  • Be able to attend weekly Explorer meetings.
  • Be willing to volunteer your time to attend Explorer functions.
  • Be willing to commit to the Explorer Code and exemplify the professional image of the Sedona Police Department.

“These days kids don’t talk to one another,” he said. “This program forces them to communicate and trust one another. That’s the part of this I enjoy seeing the most.”

The Explorers are funded primarily through grants and private donations. This helps cover the costs to travel and stay at competitions. Aside from Wilcoxson, other officers such as William Knuth, Ty Langmack, Nathan Dorfman and Stephanie Foley have volunteered their time to work with the current team. Because the program was disbanded for a year, each member of the Sedona Explorer team is new, compared to many of those they competed against in Chandler.

“They were excited and nervous but they did everything we taught them,” Wilcoxson said. “Even though they didn’t win any trophies they all had a great time and learned a lot. The next competition is this summer in Las Vegas. They’re already excited about going.”

For more information on the Explorer program, to donate or become a member, contact Wilcoxson at 203-5008.

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