25 teenagers graduated from the Lubbock Police Department's "Explorer" program on Saturday, in front of family and friends.

The Explorer post is a youth outreach program that started in 1995, for teens interested in careers in military or law enforcement -- or simply those who want to build leaderhsip skills. Participants learn how to handle domestic situations, traffic stops, defensive tactics, how to interact with people, as well as taking LPD's officer training obstacle course. Officers with the program say the lessons carry into all aspects of life.

"We teach them hostage negotiation," Lt. Mike Steen explained. "The reason we do that is because we want to give them mentoring skills -- some kids don't have them. We teach them a lot about integrity, character, standing up and saying 'I'll go, I'll be first, I'll take charge.'"

"These are the future heroes," he added, "the ones that are interested in law enforcement."

The Explorer post is open to boys and girls, 14 through 21, that have an interest in serving. It costs $25 a year, which can be donated if there are financial issues.

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