MONTVILLE, NJ - ​The Montville Township Police Explorers Post 805 attended the National Law Enforcement Exploring Conference in Indiana last month and brought home five awards.
 
​The Post, which has existed for more than 30 years, is a club for students ages 13 to 21 who are interested in law enforcement.  Explorers attend meetings throughout the school year to learn enforcement techniques, but the Post also provides community service within the Township by performing such services as aiding the parking of cars at the Montville Fourth of July celebration, aiding in safety maintenance at the Relay for Life celebration and keeping business parking lots cleared at the Towaco Music & Arts Festival.
 
Retired police officer Frank Cooney, who now works in real estate, started as an Explorer when the Post first started.  He has been its advisor since 1991. He and officer Dominick Danzi accompanied the 14 Post members to Bloomington, Indiana, where this year’s National Law Enforcement Explorers’ conference was held. The conference is held every other year, and “is attended by thousands of Law Enforcement Explorers and adult leaders who come together for a week of team and individual competitions, seminars, demonstrations, exhibits, recreation and fun,” according to the Exploring conference website.  
 
​Post Commander Michael Cooney, Jr., who is Frank Cooney’s nephew, said this was the fourth national conference he had attended.
 

“My favorite part is the team competition. Our post broke up into teams of four and we competed in police scenarios that were judged. My team, composed of Christian Martinez, Brendan Zevits, Pam Danko and me, competed in the ‘Shoot or Don’t Shoot’ and ‘Hostage Negotiation’ scenarios,” Michael Cooney said. Martinez and Zevits will be Montville Township High School seniors, and Danko will be a junior at the high school.
The 'Shoot or Not Shoot' competition involved a computer simulation, complete with laser-sighted pistols, in which Explorers had to make the split-second decision of whether a person on the screen was a criminal or a victim, and shoot – or not.  “The judge decides your level of authority and whether or not the figure on-screen would comply,” Michael Cooney explained.  “It really got my adrenaline going!”
 
​The 'Hostage Negotiation' competition split the team into individual jobs: primary negotiator, secondary negotiator, team commander, and scribe. The scenario lasted approximately one hour as the team talked on the phone to the “hostage taker,” and tried to negotiate the release of the hostages, keep the taker calm, and glean as much information about the situation as possible. The “criminals” in each scenario were played by Drug Enforcement Administration agents, Indiana State Police officers, and Bloomington, Indiana police officers.
The Post returned from the Conference with five awards. The first award was for placement in the top ten percent in the 'White Collar Crime' scenario, according to Frank Cooney.  “In this scenario, the Explorer team has to go into a business, for example a [pretend] bank with a search warrant, and seize all computers, search the scene, get all weapons, and secure all ‘criminals,’” he explained. ​
 
Another award the Post received was for its booth at the Explorer USA convention. “It showcases what the Post has done for the past two years,” Frank Cooney said. “Our booth showed the community service we have provided for the past two years. Representatives from our Post discussed the booth with individuals who approached it, and we were judged on their explanation; we won a top ten percent award.”
Further awards were achieved in the physical training category, and Christian Martinez placed 17th in the “individual pistol shooting” competition.
“It was definitely an amazing learning experience,” Michael Cooney said.
 
“I’m very proud of the Police Explorers and I look forward to helping them develop their skills for the next national conference and bring home even more awards,” stated Frank Cooney.