Police Explorer Post 150 A Successful Program For Coronado PD - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Home And Business

Police Explorer Post 150 A Successful Program For Coronado PD

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Posted: Thursday, August 20, 2015 5:15 pm

Coronado Police Officer Sherri Mannello has many responsibilities, both professionally and personally. She is the mother of young Nickolas Mannello who is three and one-half years old. In addition, she is married to 20-year Navy SEAL, Chief Michael Mannello. On her professional side she serves as the Coronado Police Department’s school resource officer and she is one of four department members who coordinate the Coronado Police Explorers program.

Originally from central Oregon, Mannello earned a BA in Political Science from Portland State University, followed by a Master’s degree in conflict resolution and negotiation from Cal State Dominguez Hills. She served in the Orange County Sherriff’s Department for 12 years and celebrated her fifth year as an officer in Coronado Sunday by working the Concerts in the Park event.

Mannello explained how she embarked upon her career path. “My parents wanted me to be an attorney. Nobody in my family was in law enforcement and my parents were dead set against it. I started spending holidays in college coming down here and the friends I was with were L.A. County deputy sheriffs. Over the years coming down here and being with them, they told me I fit the mold for law enforcement. I liked their stories, their attitudes and personalities and that was it.”

Being involved in a Police Explorer program, which is part of the Learning for Life program and affiliated with the Boy Scouts of America, isn’t new for Mannello. “I was actually an Explorer advisor starting in 2000 for the Orange County Sherriff’s Department and I was an advisor up there for 10 years and we had 250 kids in the program. At the time I was living in San Clemente and they didn’t have an Explorer division. I had a desire to patrol in San Clemente some day and I went to the Sergeant-in-charge and told him I wanted to establish a division for the Tri-Cities of San Clemente, Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano. Eventually I was vice president of the Orange County Law Enforcement Explorer Advisor Association.”

When Mannello moved to the Coronado PD, she discovered that something was missing. “I had a successful experience up there, but when I came here in 2010, there was no Explorer post. There was something missing from my life and it was the kids. I kept bugging Chief Lou Scanlon to start an Explorer post and he signed off on it before he retired. Twenty-eight years ago there was an Explorer Post 150 in Coronado. When we applied for the post here, we went with tradition and asked that we be named Post 150. Police Explorers have to be at least 14 years of age and not older than 21. We have six kids in the program now and everyone is in high school except Julio Munoz who is a student at San Diego State University, where he is studying criminal justice and he wants to get into law enforcement. As his advisors, our job is to assist him in meeting those goals.”

Advisors for the Coronado Police Explorer program, which is just starting its third year, are Sergeant Kevin Shank, Corporal Anthony Flores, Corporal Ryan Rose and Mannello. Current Police Explorers in Coronado include: Max Stangl, Julio Munoz, Pedro Gonzalez, Acacia Pereira, Explorer Sgt. Rocky Rhys and Ivan Gonzales. The Gonzalez brothers have been Explorers since the program began. Acacia Pereira commutes to Coronado from Lakeside for the meetings.

Since the post is relatively small, Rhys is the only Explorer member with rank. Mannello explained, “Rocky is a junior at Coronado High School. We opened the position up for testing to anyone who was interested. They had to pass a written test and an oral interview with advisors and Rocky was the one who prevailed.”

Having four advisors for six Explorers may seem a little top heavy until you realize the scope of the program. “We have meetings every Monday night from 5 to 7 p.m., year around,” Mannello said. “The Explorers do a lot of volunteer work. It helps students with their college resumes and it saves money for the city of Coronado. During the July 4th Parade, they assisted with traffic and parking control. The reality is when they work, people will think they look like a cop. What we try to do is instill in them the confidence to make a decision and tell people they are able to park here or go somewhere else. They volunteer at parades, and the Super Frog competition. If there is a big event in town, they volunteer to assist with traffic and crowd control. Explorers do ride-alongs. One Explorer went out with me on calls. They fill out towing paper work and they get on the radio and answer calls for me, which instills confidence. They know the radio codes and they talk like a cop. Sometimes they sound better than some of the officers out there. It’s awesome and as their advisors, we eat that up.”

Police Explorer Post 150 has a core group of six solid members heading into the current school year. When asked about her goals for the program, Mannello was quick to respond, “To grow our numbers. That’s going to take recruiting on the part of the Explorers and by word of mouth on the part of the police officers in town. This isn’t a program for kids who are failing in school or struggling in school. It’s a program for young men and women who are interested in building a stronger foundation in their lives regarding ethics, morals and integrity. If they decide they want to be a police officer, that’s super cool. If not, we have given them a foundation to go out and be successful in their lives. For me, I want our recruits to be a better asset to the department and ultimately I want the city to appreciate the volunteer work and hours these kids donate to the community and to the police department. Ultimately I would like to see one or two of them become police officers.”

For Mannello, an overall education for her Explorers is of critical importance. “All of our kids want to go to college and for the most part they are keeping law enforcement as a ‘maybe’ in their future career choices. All of the advisors went to college and know the importance of education. We emphasize that school is first and always No. 1. We keep track of their grades. Explorers is just a fun opportunity for the kids to do on the side of everything else they have going on.”

Coronado Police Chief Jon Froomin also has a strong Police Explorer background and growing up in Foster City, became the first Police Explorer in his hometown. Froomin recounted his Police Explorer experience. “We had a Youth in Government Day’ program up there and high school kids were picked to be department heads for a day. Usually there is a community problem posed. I wound up in the police department for two years in a row and on my first visit I mentioned there was no program for kids. Later that same year the police chief called and said they were starting a post and asked me if I wanted to join and I did.”

Froomin continued, “It was a great start for my career. I was interested in law enforcement and it gave me an opportunity to show the department who I was and what I was about. I had worked for the department as a community officer and they knew exactly what they were getting.”

Mannello explained Froomin’s continued interest in the Explorer program. “We report to Sgt. Shank, Commander Ochoa, and then to Chief Froomin. We use the chain of command. Chief Froomin has such an open door policy, that when he and I are working Concerts in the Park, we sometimes visit about the Explorer program. He is very open and supportive of the program.”

Perhaps the major draw for the Police Explorers are the seven-day Explorer Academy held at UCSD and a recent Explorer competition held in Escondido. According to Mannello, generous contributions from the Rotary Club of Coronado and the Optimist Club of Coronado made participation possible for the Post 150.

“Ryan, Anthony and I went seven days straight at UCSD,” Mannello said of the Academy. “We went, helped out and kept an eye on our kids to make sure they were handling it there. Many of the kids had never been away overnight. There is no access to cellphones. The academy is an intensive training opportunity for the Explorers. We had four kids in Phase 1 this year, which involves a lot of discipline and drill instructors who yell at them. They love it. We don’t have the typical Coronado kids. The Gonzalez brothers participated in Phase 2, which is intensive training for police officers focusing on topics like high risk stops, going into a gas house, and it’s an opportunity for them to become more familiar with firearms.”

Explorers attended a competition in Escondido and Mannello outlined those events. “They participated in different scenarios including domestic violence, hot stops, an ambush scenario and they got to shoot in a firearms competition. They shoot the same guns we shoot with. Rocky Rhys got a second in the fire arms completion and that was the highest we scored. The kids love it and this is their reward and our way of thanking them for their volunteer hours.”

Mannello summarized her thoughts regarding the Police Explorer program. “I’ve been involved in a lot of extracurricular activities related to being an officer and a deputy sheriff and I would never give up the Explorer program. I do it because we have a group of kids in town who really care about the program. I like that I can mentor them in making good choices and that there is a higher standard expected of them. Through the years you get so much pride seeing these kids grow up and be awesome in whatever community they decide to be part of.”

For more information on Police Explorer Post 150, contact Mannello or any of the Explorer advisors at Explorers@coronado.ca.us.

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