PORT ISABEL — Learning the ropes at ages as young as 14 years old, high school students had a chance to experience what it’s like being a law enforcement officer during the third annual Explorer Competition.
Hosted by the Fort Brown Border Patrol Station, the competition was held at Port Isabel High School, where 34 Explorer teams from El Paso to Brownsville compete in 24 scenarios such as domestic violence disputes, active shooter scenarios and crime scene searches.
Agencies such as U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Texas Department of Public Safety, sheriff deputies and local police departments were at the event, judging and guiding the kids throughout the scenarios.
“The judges for this event are law enforcement officers that have obviously done this type of scenario in their field of work,” said Gilberto Losoya, supervisory Border Patrol agent and border community liaison. “They have a point system, and it’s from zero to 100 points that pretty much grades them from the moment they come in (to the scenario), from the way they handle the situation (and) by the way the evidence is collected.”
Kids participating in the competition are high school students who want to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“They’re learning everything from the basics of being a law enforcement officer, from discipline, respectfulness, integrity, honesty and all the other core values that we have, to making arrests, how to arrest, how to search (and) how to protect themselves,” Losoya said.
During the competition, students wore law enforcement attire and had rubber guns. Losoya said the kids were told to treat the rubber guns like real weapons.
“When they go to a scenario that’s their real weapon,” Losoya said. “If the scenario calls for a use-of-force situation where there’s deadly force, then, of course, they would come out with their supposedly real weapon.”
Mission native Steven Peña Jr., who has participated in the Explorer Competition the past five years, hopes to one day work with the Federal Bureau of Investigation as an accountant and help it with fraud cases.
“I’ve gotten so many tips. I’ve gotten stuff from how make arrests, how to handcuff, what you can be arrested for. Just very good tips that can help me out in the real world,” Peña said.
Enedina Losoya volunteered at the competition, acting as a wife in a domestic dispute.
“This career is a good and hardworking pathway, (and) it’s something I might consider doing later on in life,” Losoya said.