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Teens learn what it takes to become an officer

Posted at 6:14 PM, Jun 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-05 01:57:26-04
What do you want to be when you grow-up? 
 
Every child has a different answer to that question. But, what if you could try out your career before you made that life-changing decision? 
 
For dozens of southern Arizona teens, their Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights were spent with multiple police agencies and departments. 
 
The Marana Police Explorer Post has been giving teens, ages 14 to 20, in that program the chance to live-out scenarios they may see on the streets if they were to become an officer. 
 
The sirens and the scenes may not be real, but the adrenaline 16-year-old Ryan Madden felt, is very real. 
 
This event with the program is called "Night Moves" and it put teens, like Ryan, into patrol cars with officers where they responded to simulated calls. 
 
"It's normal - what you see everyday," Ryan explained. "So, it was a pursuit chase into a high-risk stop and the suspects weren't complying, so - we had to adapt and we did what we had to do."
 
Ryan's father is an officer himself, prompting Ryan to get in on the action a year and a half ago. 
 
He said, the direct feedback after each scenario really helps him learn. 
 
"It's very helpful," Ryan said. "So, you know exactly what you did wrong and how to fix it exactly coming from officers. So, it's very good."
 
Program coordinator Officer Kevin Litten says, this is the real deal. He describes it as the closest experience a person can get without actually being sworn-in. 
 
"The thing I like about the Marana Police Department, is if we dedicate all this time to training an explorer, as they get closer to becoming 21, our chief will give them an opportunity to test and hire from within them first because we've already dedicated so much time to it," Officer Litten explained.
 
Ryan is about five years away from getting that chance. But, he says he'll be apart of the explorers as long as he's allowed.