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Oakmont Police's Explorer Program Preps Teens for Future Career

Teens who are interested in law enforcement have been learning about police work from Oakmont's finests.

Sporting a Harley jacket, Oakmont police Officer Trevor Okonak is cornered as he sits in a chair at the police department.

He speaks, and there's a hint of hesitance and nervousness in his voice. At this time, he's not an officer—he's a suspect.

Okonak and other Oakmont officers have been spending a few hours each Tuesday night teaching nine local teens about police work through the department's Explorer program.

Last week, the students acted as crime scene investigators—going through a scene complete with blood, bullets and a dummy—and interrogators for a murder. Okonak played the role of the murder suspect during a traffic stop and interrogations.

"You should have seen them go through that crime scene," Okonak said. "They picked up on so many things.

"During the interrogations, I was feeling the pressure. I couldn't think of things fast enough as they asked me questions to stay straight."

Verona police officers also invited the teens to the station during this week's lesson.

Participant Curtis Schebotch, who wants to be a conservation officer, said the activities have all been helpful.

"We did a crime scene investigation, which was pretty cool," he said. "We also had a mock traffic stop where we cuffed [Officer Okonak] and brought him back to the station for interrogation."

Oakmont police Chief David DiSanti said he's happy with the progress of the department's pilot program.

"We've talked about ethics, being a good human being and being leaders instead of followers," he said. "We're trying to make it fun and expose them to as much as we can about what we do.

"I believe we'll be seeing these kids in law enforcement. They're way beyond their years."

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