Exploring With Officer Staples of St. Petersburg, Why We Serve Runner Up

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Last month, Aftermath offered law enforcement officers nationwide an opportunity to tell their stories and discuss  the reasons why they serve in their communities. The Why We Serve service grant also drew attention to the important causes that the officers themselves support.

For the four finalists selected,  it also meant being able to give even more to the community. Officer Janie Staples of St. Petersburg PD chose the St. Petersburg Police Explorers Program as her charity. As one of the runners up, Officer Staples’ $500 grant will go toward creating new opportunities for young adults enrolled in the program.

On a recent visit to the department, Aftermath’s Senior Manager of Law Enforcement Relations, Rodney Tower, suggested the Why We Serve service grant to Officer Staples and her colleagues. “I knew of the brand and became more familiar with it in the past year, thanks to Rodney. I have a good deal of respect for him, and knowing that he is a representative gives me a lot of confidence that the company walks the walk, that they really do provide great service for families.”

What is the Explorers Program

St. Petersburg is a unique, oceanfront community with a population of over 250,000. The St. Petersburg Police Department has 562 sworn officers and 212 civilians. In addition to the traditional departments, they also have a marine unit and are very involved with the Explorers program, which is part of the Boy Scouts of  America Learning for Life and is sponsored by the St. Petersburg Police Department.

According to the department’s website, Exploring gives young adults the chance to work directly with police officers, participate in ride-alongs, receive police training, meet new friends, and help out the local community.

Staples has been an officer for 20 years. Before that, she was an Explorer herself. She also met her husband through the program: “During my time as an Explorer, there were three officers who made a huge impact on my life and inspired me to become an officer myself. I joined the force to help youth become better adults. The Explorers program provides them with life skills and helps them develop into leaders.”

How the Why We Serve Grant Will Help

Most volunteers involved in Explorers are previous members of the program themselves. Adults who interested in voluteering must participate in a background check and be approved of by the Boy Scouts of America. The program recruits participants from local Boy Scout Troops and high schools. It is open to both boys and girls ages 14-19, and is limited to just 35 members each year.

Staples hopes the grant will help Explorers train and compete in tournaments at the Explorer level. Last year, the program received a perfect score in crime scene investigation and placed second in an active shooter scenario. The majority of funds for these activities come from merchandise sales and donations.

“People don’t realize how expensive it is to travel to the competitions,” Staples said. “Out-of-state travel, plus the required equipment and uniforms for the program becomes very costly. For competitions, we typically bring 8 explorers. We compete in a variety of divisions, including community service, honor guard, and shooting. We want the kids to be able to go regardless of economic status, so a lot of our money goes toward this aspect of program.”

Aftermath Cares About Police & Communties

The Why We Serve grant is just one of the many ways we continue to show our support of law enforcement nationwide. From conferences to charity sponsorships, we’re always finding new ways to honor your contributions to our communities. Stay tuned next month as we gear up for our annual K9 Grant Competition. It’s our biggest event of the year!