UNION, NJ – Six young men and women of the Union Police Department’s Explorers Program graduated last week.

Explorers in good standing graduate from the program once they reach 18 or finish their senior year in high school.  The six Explorer graduates are:  Mekhi Rivers, Jordon Diaz, Maria Steitz, Emily Steitz, Sabrina Conde, and Francisco Estrada.

“To the graduates of the Explorer program, we wish you continued success in your next chapter,” said Deputy Chief Rick Landolfi.  “We are extremely proud of each and every one of you.”

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Explorer Diaz has enlisted in the Army, Motor Transport Operator E-2.  “I’ve learned a lot from this program,” he said.  “Being able to talk to the police officers with military backgrounds, answered a lot of my questions. I loved being able to be the platoon leader and teaching everyone else the drills I’ve learned in JROTC.”

Rivers, headed to Montclair State University in the fall, said, “this program has brought me a lot of maturity, helped me in building my independence and helped build me to be better as a person.”

Union County College bound in the fall to study paramedics, “like my brothers”, Maria Steitz said, “I joined this program, and I didn’t expect to have this much fun. I’m so happy I did.”

Emily Steitz has enlisted in the Army, as an automated logistical specialist, maintaining equipment records and parts.  “This program has changed us and motivated us for the better,” she said.

Conde is headed to St. Peters University to study criminal justice.  “This has been an amazing journey,” she said.  “I have learned a lot and I’ve had lots of fun. I have all these experiences to carry with me through life and I am thankful.”

Estrada has enlisted in the National Guard 19/Delta. “Everyone is a cop in my family,” he said.  “I was always a cop for Halloween. Even this past year I was a cop. Every chance I had I was in a uniform. When I heard Union had an Explorers program, I jumped on the opportunity to join. I thought I knew everything from all the other summer programs I’ve attended over so many years, but I was wrong. I learned so much more than I expected. From conversations with the officers to all the trips we went on.  I have to say, this surprised me. Thank you for everything.”

The Union Explorers Program participants are high school students interested in law enforcement as a possible career.  Explorers receive training in CPR, traffic control, accident investigations, crime prevention, communications and assist the Township with community events.