Santa Paula Times

(Above left photo) Santa Paula Police Explorer of the Year Alfred Valencia stands between Senior Officer/Post Advisor Ken Clark (l) and Lieutenant Troyce Reynolds (r) who presented Alfred with the award at the May 7 ceremony. (Above right) Santa Paula Police Explorers celebrate Alfred Valencia (holding plaque), the SPPD Explorer of the Year. Senior Officer/Explorer Advisor Ken Clark (left) and Lieutenant Troyce Reynolds (right) also attended the ceremony.

Alfred Valencia, Explorer of the Year plans SPPD career

June 11, 2010
Santa Paula Police Department

With a strong desire to enter the field of law enforcement Alfred Valencia has a good start, especially as the 19-year-old city resident was recently honored as the Santa Paula Police Department’s 2009 Explorer of the Year.

Alfred joined the SPPD Explorer program in December 2008 and Senior Officer Ken Clark, Explorer advisor, said, “Since then he has accumulated more than 300 volunteer hours working community events, putting in his regular station hours or going on ride-alongs.” So dedicated to the program is Alfred that Clark said he was recently promoted to Senior Explorer, “where he has taken on more responsibility with the Explorer Program.”

A 2009 Santa Paula High School graduate, Alfred, 18 when he received the Explorer of the Year Award May 7, joined the program when a teacher at Ventura College - where Alfred is studying Criminal Justice - told him about it. It fit right in with what had been in Alfred’s mind for years: “Since my sophomore year I’d thought about being an officer,” based on his desire to “make a difference, be an example to stay away from gangs,” drugs and criminal activity.

Intrigued, Alfred became an Explorer, and said, “It’s a way for me to gain experience, get to know people, and help me become a police officer.” That includes some on the job training, including attitude, “how to act professionally” with law enforcement officers as well as with the public, and “how to communicate.”

His goal is to join the Santa Paula Police Department as a full-time officer, and Alfred has specific plans: “Once I become 20 I’m going to attend the full-time police officer academy and be hired as a full-time officer.”

Clark said, “Before selecting this year’s Explorer of the Year for our Santa Paula Post, input was sought from personnel in all divisions of the police department. Several names were discussed, but one name was mentioned repeatedly and his dedication stood out from the rest.... Our property officer stated Alfred has come in and helped him without hesitation and did excellent work,” and, noted Clark, “our records supervisor wished she could hire Alfred because of his quick learning ability and error-free work.”

Away from the Explorer program, Alfred is a youth leader at his church and works with teens aged from 14-18. He likes “hanging out with his friends,” and can be found working out or playing sports.

“Alfred’s career goal,” said Clark, “is to become a police officer with the Santa Paula Police Department. He says what draws him to law enforcement is that it’s not a typical 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. office job where you spend most time inside. He would like to be out working the streets fighting crime.”

In fact said Alfred, “I have a particular interest in SRT” (Special Response Team), the department’s version of SWAT. Clark said the Explorer “also likes the uniform appearance, and looks forward to learning about different types of weapons and organizational planning,” all vital to law enforcement.

“Alfred says he enjoys the Explorer Program and would recommend it to the community’s youth because it is a good character builder” and, said Clark, “it shows you a different aspect towards law enforcement than what is seen on TV or heard in music.”

“I really enjoy learning, communicating with people and making a difference in the city,” said Alfred, the only member of his family involved in law enforcement. Was he surprised being honored as the Explorer of the Year? “Yeah,” he said with a laugh, “I was... they didn’t tell me until two days before the event!”