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Cadets gain law enforcement skills

Karl Horeis

squad car with lights flashing idled behind a stopped car. Its loud speaker crackled to life.

“This is the Elko County Police Department. Exit the vehicle and put your hands on your head, please.”

It sounded serious, until you remembered this is Carson City – not Elko County. And what’s up with “Please?”

“Don’t bother with ‘please,'” called a man from the side. “During an arrest we don’t bother with please and thank you.”

It was an instructor at the Law Enforcement Explorer Academy held this weekend at the Nevada Highway Patrol’s Stewart Facility. The Explorer scouts were going through their first high-risk car stops.

Elsewhere in the facility they were studying domestic violence intervention and using the FATS – firearm training simulator.

One female cadet with a pistol belt and a gray T-shirt was doing push ups.

“Six,” she counted. “Seven.”

“You can go lower,” said her instructor sweetly.

“Eiiiggghhht,” groaned the red-faced cadet.

“It’s a very high intensity academy – very militarily structured,” said Detective Sgt. Eric Silva of the Winnemucca Police Department. A former member of the Yolo County Explorer post, Silva is one of the organizers of the four-day program.

About 50 cadets came from California and Nevada. Nine came from Sonoma County in the Bay area and others came from South Lake Tahoe, Elko, Winnemucca, Reno and Carson City.

They were broken up at random into five groups.

“That gives them a chance to network and meet new kids,” Silva said.

“It makes us all interact and keeps us from getting too cliquey,” said Krystal Pinkston, a 21-year-old member of the green team.

Her teammate Steven McQuirk, 18, is studying criminal justice and planning to be a law enforcement officer. He said he was having fun Saturday.

“I’ve been up for a long time. We had to get up at 5 and clean our rooms. Then we had P.T.,” he said, describing a grueling “physical training” regimen. “That was nice and cold.”

Pinkston, also a criminal justice student, said she loves to learn.

“I’m not too big on P.T.,” she said. “But I like to learn. The more I learn the better.”

The academy, sponsored by the Department of Public Safety, Nevada Highway Patrol and Winnemucca Police Department, is scheduled to become an annual event.

“I think this is going to get real large,” said Carson City Sheriff Kenny Furlong who stopped by to watch his deputies train cadets Saturday.

“Stewart is a great facility for the kids – it’s the same one the regular officers use.”

He was referring to the Department of Public Safety which operates the police academy for officers.

Furlong and Bob Davidson, chief of police for Winnemucca, were instrumental in organizing the academy, Silva said.

“Where do you see a sheriff from a major city hanging out with a bunch of kids on a Saturday?” he asked.

Officers from several departments acted as instructors. Reno Police Department’s SWAT team taught building clearing; Winnemucca Police Department and Douglas County Sheriff’s Office taught defensive tactics and Sonoma County Sheriff’s Department deputies taught high-risk stops. All the instructors are unpaid volunteers.

Mike Carmazzi, a training officer with the Nevada Peace Officer Standards of Training program, taught firearm safety and proficiency.

“They’re the ones who train the real cops,” Silva said.

Cadets in the academy sleep in bunk houses on site.

“It’s the exact same place the officers stay when they come here for the real police academy,” Silva said. “Some of these kids might be back here before too long.”

Today cadets will collect awards for the skills they have practiced since Thursday.

Contact Karl Horeis at khoreis@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.