MARANA, AZ (Tucson News Now) - They are getting real-life training, yet, some are barely old enough to enlist in the real thing.
The Marana Police Department is hosting the 4th annual Night Moves program, bringing together teenage, hopeful future officers from all over southern Arizona who are interested in a career in law enforcement.
Police Explorers from various departments around the area, including U.S. Border Patrol, Tucson Police, South Tucson Police, Chandler Police, Glendale Police, and El Mirage Police, talked the talk and walked the walk Thursday night, July 12.
"The Police Explorers program is offered by many police agencies throughout the nation to teach kids all the ins and outs of public safety. Marana's 'Night Moves' takes the learning experience to a practical level where the Explorers will be challenged with role-playing scenarios," a news release from the Town of Marana said.
They trained Thursday night in 22 scenarios for real-life situations, including police pursuits in squad cars, suspicious person calls, domestic violence calls, and suicidal subjects. Officers on scene will evaluate the Police Explorer's performance and even offer some guidance, the news release said.
The hands-on training is giving 18-year-old Marana Police Explorer RJ York a chance to learn about the love of the job.
"It's just helping people, knowing you're making a difference in the world and you're there to protect people in case anything happens," he said.
He was eager to soak in the information as he was trained by a Police Explorer veteran.
Marana Police Department Officer Jimmy Rizzi, who coordinated this year's program, was once a Police Explorer in Tucson until he was 20 years old.
"I started when I was 14," Rizzi said. "One, I thought it was the coolest thing ever. And the end goal was me becoming a police officer."
It helped him learn what it was going to take to become an officer before he took steps towards the real badge.
"We definitely give them the tools they need and we let them know exactly what it takes to become a police officer. They find out what it's all about when they're here with us," Rizzi said.
But some will find this is not the life or career they want, and not all will pass through their various academies. Although, Thursday's Night Moves program helped many add fuel to their fiery passion for police work.
This will be York's fourth year participating in Night Moves. He recently graduated from Marana High School and enlisted in the United State Air Force. In addition to learning about law enforcement, he attributes the Police Explorers program for helping him develop the confidence to talk to people, the news release said.
"This program has kind of opened up my eyes to how it is. I've learned, too, that I absolutely love it," York said.
It's a passion for the job, that Officer Rizzi wants to pass on to others.
"It absolutely helped me to get to where I am today. That's physically, mentally, and just all around. It's just a great program to get the kids of today to become the police officers of tomorrow."