As a member of an Explorer post affiliated with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the La Cañada Flintridge resident rode along with deputies and assisted a boy who was suffering a seizure. The Boy Scouts of America Learning for Life program recently awarded him the Explorer Leadership Award.
Cronkhite, now 22, is a civilian advisor and hopes to one day become a deputy sheriff. He studies criminal law at Pasadena City College. He answered questions via email for the Valley Sun.
You graduated from the Explorer Academy in 2007. Can you explain what the academy teaches you and how you got involved in it?
The Explorer Academy is a mandatory basic training process that all Sheriff Explorers must go through before being stationed at a patrol station of their choice. The Explorer Academy essentially teaches the recruits business skills. As a recruit, you are taught how to dress professionally, how to take care of your body, may it be healthy eating habits or physical exercises, and to learn public-speaking skills. The academy molds an everyday high school student into a young professional ready for the workplace. The academy is tough, it's a para-military program which breaks down who you think you are while the staff builds you into the man or woman you thought you'd never know.
What is your current position and what are your duties?
As the Explorers is a youth program, the maximum age for an Explorer is the day of your 22nd birthday. I “aged out” of the Explorer program on my birthday earlier this year, in January. I didn't want to leave my Explorers, I had worked very hard on turning a team of three into a team of 10. Nevertheless, I turned in my captain insignias and the issued gear. Thankfully, my advisors felt it was necessary to keep me on with the program, for I still had so much to teach them, so they hired me on as a civilian advisor, where I am now. Getting this job was essentially a promotion from Explorer captain.
I continue to teach and mentor the Explorers in life and in law. I teach Explorers officer safety, uniform appearance, arrest and control techniques. Since our Explorers heavily participate in the ride-along program, I also give them field training. Field training consists of investigation of crimes, in-depth discussions of criminal law, and techniques to de-escalate hostile situations. I also accompany Explorers in various events as a supervisor from Explorer competitions to civic events that require public appearance.
Is it difficult to train new Explorers?
It's not as difficult to train new Explorers as you would think. These kids are eager to get that duty belt on and take someone down in our controlled training sessions. When these young men and women are interested in law enforcement, it's hard for them to leave the station, because they just want to keep learning more.
What do you like about working with young Explorers?
I see a young me in each and every one of them. As their leader and advisor, I do my very best to nurture their love for law enforcement, and teach them every single thing I know about being a cop. I certainly enjoy hearing the stories of our Explorers taking guns and drugs off the streets assisting deputies on ride-alongs.