SAN ANTONIO – The San Antonio Police Department has more boots on the ground as 17 officers graduate from police academy Friday afternoon.
Chief William McManus says each cadet class is proof the Explorer Program
is a gateway into the police department. It’s sponsored by the Boy Scouts. Police Explorers are teenagers who work alongside officers and perhaps, be inspired enough to later join the force.
One of the program’s success stories is about to hit the streets as an officer.
"It feels pretty good,” Officer Julian Hillman says. “It's been a long, hard road but we got here."
When Officer Hillman crossed the stage to receive his diploma, the department’s current Explorers stood in support.
"They said, 'Post 2459, attention!,'” he says.
Hillman credits the program with making him trade in the Explorer badge for one that says Officer.
"Probably on my first ride along,” Officer Hillman recalls as his inspiration. “It really gave me a firsthand view of what it's like on a daily basis for a law enforcement officer."
The program is now a department priority.
“We’ve focused on it,” Chief William McManus says. “We focused on trying to get San Antonio kids into the Explorer program”
He says the effort is working. Six years ago, there were 30 Explorers. Today, there are nearly 200.
"Hopefully if there are any young folks who are watching what went on here today, maybe it will inspire them to become a police officer,” Chief McManus says.
And until they get there, Hillman is a role model.
"Knowing that I can protect the city of San Antonio, the city I grew up in, it makes my career worthwhile,” he says.
Hillman’s now an Officer and forever an Explorer.