Sheriff's Office launching Explorer program for teens

News 12 First at Five / Friday, May 3, 2013

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- If you have trouble finding activities for your kids during the summer, the Richmond County Sheriff's Office may have an idea for you.

They're starting a new program called the Explorer program in the next couple of months to help keep kids off the streets during summer months when crime spikes the most.

Melanda Lowery-Peek makes sure her teenagers stay out of trouble during the summer, but it hasn't always been easy.

“We try to keep our kids busy,” she said. “Since we have four, we make them do reports, read, all sorts of things.”

Her son, Andre, is 18 and getting ready to go into the Navy, but when he was growing up, she made sure his summers were occupied with activities like sports.

“We've lived in different counties, Charleston, Columbia for a while,” she said, “and they all had summer programs that geared towards all ages.”

But in Richmond County, she says there aren't a lot of options for the older kids.

“The more kids we can get involved in something constructive, the more you'll see our crime rate change here,” said Richmond County Sheriff Richard Roundtree.

The Richmond County Sheriff's office is starting up a new program through the Boy Scouts called the Explorer program.

The goal is to give teenage boys, ages 16-20, something constructive to do this summer by teaching them more about law enforcement.

“Because of the sensitive nature of the program, that target age is one you can expose to them a lot more because of maturity levels,” Roundtree said.

The program will teach teens about more than just law enforcement.

“We combined with the fire department also to make it a public safety Explorer program,” Roundtree said.

Teens like Andre, who say there isn't much to do in Augusta, say the program will help a lot.

“It would keep kids off the streets, I can tell you that,” he said. “I think it will definitely give them options, it will give parents peace of mind.”

The program will be accepting applications soon and hopes to have the first class selected by the end of the school year. It kicks off in mid-June.

Organizers say they plan to expand the program by offering day camps and activities for kids who aren't able to be in the Explorer program.

For more information on how you can sign up your teen, call the Richmond County Sheriff's Office.

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