Mint Hill starts Police Explorers program

Students to learn law enforcement basics

by Kara Lopp

The Mint Hill Police Department has launched a Police Explorers program. Explorers (from left) Regan Early, 15, of Mint Hill; Graham Lawrence, 18, of Mint Hill; Sgt. Daniel Forster; Zachary Constantinidis, 18, of Charlotte and Markell Riley, 17, of Mint Hill, met for the first time this week. (Explorers not pictured: Deja Murphy and Vanessa Dean, both of Mint Hill). Kara Lopp/MMHW photo

Handing out notebooks and pens to his new recruits, Mint Hill Police Sgt. Daniel Forster was eager to share a nugget of wisdom.

“Your first lesson in law enforcement is you have to listen,” Forster told the teens. “You have to listen and take good notes.”

Forster serves as coordinator for the department’s new Police Explorers program, which held their first meeting Tuesday, April 10 at Blair Road United Methodist Church. Part of the national Learning for Life program, Police Explorers will get hands-on experience about what a career in law enforcement holds. So far, six students have signed up in Mint Hill – three boys and three girls. Matthews Police and the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office also have Explorers programs.

Students ages 14 to 20 are eligible to participate. Students must fill out an application, write a minimum 250-word essay on why they want to join the program and pay an $11 application/insurance fee. Students don’t have to live in Mint Hill to join the department’s program.

Forster, who joined the department three years ago, has 11 years in law enforcement experience including prisoner transport, patrol, Special Weapons and Tactics team, or S.W.A.T., operations and investigations. He didn’t decide to become a police officer until his senior year in high school and never had the opportunity to sample the job before he started classes.

“I didn’t have something like this,” he said. “We want to take people that have a serious interest in law enforcement and expose them to those things so they can make an informed career decision. I think any time you can get a little insight on a career path I think it’ll help you make a more educated decision down the road.”

Students will meet at least once a month and will learn basic law enforcement skills like handcuffing techniques, directing traffic, crime scene photography, fingerprinting and more. Plans are in the works to join with Explorers at the sheriff’s office so students can learn jail and court procedures, too.

“I enjoy teens and I enjoy teaching,” Forster said. “I would hope the program gives them an insight into what it’s about so they don’t go down that path not knowing what to expect.”

Want to be an Explorer?

Students ages 14 to 20 interested in becoming a Police Explorer with the Mint Hill Police Department should pick up an application at the department, 7200 Matthews-Mint Hill Road.

For more information, e-mail Sgt. Daniel Forster at or call 704-545-1085.

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