PINELLAS PARK – Daniel Butterworth is so dedicated to his Explorer post, he skipped his high school graduation to participate in the Explorers’ statewide competition.
The decision paid off. The Pinellas Park Police Department’s post won first place overall in the event, which was held in Orlando about two months ago.
“None of us expected to win first place,” said Butterworth, a Pinellas Park resident. “It was kind of a payoff for all the training we do.”’
Post 912 has been competing in the statewide event for four years, but they have never taken home the first place trophy until this year. They also won trophies in traffic crash investigations, burglary in-progress investigations and crime scene investigations, vying against teams from 39 other posts.
Like other explorers, Butterworth hopes his three years of experience in the Explorers will groom him to become a police officer. He plans to enter the city’s police academy in November.
“Words can’t express how proud I am of these guys,” said Officer Chris Piccione, an Explorer adviser.
Each of the eight Pinellas Park Explorers who went to the statewide competition put in 40 to 45 hours in preparation for the event.
“Training is very intense. They (Explorers) are required to meet here every Thursday from 6 to 9,” said Piccione.
The Explorers also vied in the national competition in July in Myrtle Beach. They took home seven trophies. The Explorers conduct high-risk traffic stops, search and rescue, crisis intervention and domestic disturbance calls in training exercises. They also have target practice and firearms training twice a month.
The post was established 23 years ago by Chief Dorene Thomas. It is chartered through the Boy Scouts of America and is a service oriented program. Members are between the ages of 14 to 21 and must meet strict requirements related to their character, academics, and participation in the program.
The Explorers will travel to Flagstaff, Ariz., next year for the national competition.