Exploring the police department
Kirk Merrill, a native of New London, is glad he signed up for the New London Explorer Post 9801 several years ago. Kirk spent time with the Explorers learning what law enforcement was all about. He said he received a lot of hands-on training, including ride-alongs with police officers. Explorers find out first hand what police work is really like.
As a coop student, Merrill was hired as a records clerk before he finished high school. His interest in law enforcement was high, and after graduating, he went on to be a corrections deputy for the Waupaca County Sheriff’s office. From there, he shifted to a 9-1-1 dispatch operator for Waupaca County, and ended up at New London Police Department as a full-time dispatch operator. As a dispatcher, Merrill answers all police calls, does background checks, enters warrants and other data entry.
“I received a $500 scholarship from the Explorer Post when I graduated high school,” says Merrill. “I appreciated that.”
Merrill is also now an EMT instructor at Fox Valley Technical College.
“I’ve always stayed busy, and it’s been really interesting all along the way,” says Merrill. “Police work is not all about the squad cars, there’s a lot of paperwork and behind the scenes work that goes on, too.”
New London Police Officer Josh Wilson says the Explorer Post is made up of students and the law enforcement professionals who work with them. They meet twice a month. “There are usually 8-15 students each year who want to see the workings of the police department,” says Wilson. “This is a great community service for our department.”
During their time as an Explorer, students are versed about traffic stops, crime scene investigations, incident response, accident investigation and radio/dispatch. They take tours of jails, ride along with officers, and even compete with other Explorer groups in competitions.
Explorers also participate in community events, like the St. Patrick’s Day parade, learning crowd control and traffic direction. They park cars at the Iola Car Show each year, too, and check fishing boats for compliance during fishing tournaments.
The program is for young men and women age 14 up to age 21. Students interested in police work as a career can attend an open house at 7 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30 at the Washington Center community center. Attendees can enter off the Dickson Street parking lot. The meeting will last about one hour and parents are encouraged to attend. Questions can be answered by calling Josh Wilson at 920-982-8505.