By SCOTT AUST
Finney County Economic Development Communications Director
The Garden City Commission on Tuesday recognized Sgt. Brecken Ralston from the GCPD Law Enforcement Explorer program for his participation in the 2019 FBI National Academy’s Youth Leadership Program.
Ralston graduated from the program in Quantico, Va., on June 28. The Youth Leadership Program is an intense eight-day program of classroom study, physical challenges, guest lectures and leadership experiences.
Ralston was one of 60 students from across the nation to be selected to attend the academy.
“It was a grueling process, and really it was a three-year process,” said Capt. Randy Ralston, Brecken’s father. “The age requirements are 14 to 16, and he had applied two years prior before he was accepted the third year. It took a lot of work, a lot of effort on his part. As a parent, I’m very humbled and … also I’m excited about what it represents for our community in the future. I’m very, very proud.”
Randy Ralston said the application process and essays were grueling. Brecken had to go to Topeka several times for interviews with the FBI, but it was all worth it.
Brecken Ralston said one thing he enjoyed about the experience was meeting new people and learning that everyone has different traits.
“A lot of the classes we had were about leadership. We learned about bad leaders and good leaders, and how to be a leader and have people follow you. We also took a trip to Washington, D.C., went to the Mall, saw a lot of the monuments there. That was exciting,” he said.
During the meeting, the commission also recognized the GCPD Explorers for their participation in the 2019 Capital City Challenge Competition in Topeka at the end of June.
Six Explorers participated in the program, including Sgt. Andrew Unruh, Sgt. Brecken Ralston, Preston Dunlap, Zachery Bradley, Lindsay Biernacki and Kevin Mahoney.
The Capital City Challenge is designed to be very demanding on the physical and mental capabilities of each Explorer. Explorers participated in 10 events designed to test their skills in real life law enforcement situations, ranging from active shooter response and traffic stops to mental health and domestic violence response. Explorers also attended a 60-minute leadership class at the competition.
Local Explorers competed against 15 teams from agencies in Colorado, Oklahoma and Kansas and took third place in the Active Shooter event, while Ralston took second place in the Top Explorer competition.
“We are really blessed with a department, a city, a community that continues to sponsor and put forth the effort with these opportunities,” Senior Master Patrol Officer Robert Scrivner said. “This is our third challenge, the second one in Topeka. This one was a little more challenging but it was a good opportunity to test our teamwork and communication skills in law enforcement-based scenarios.”
The GCPD Explorers program gives youth a chance to see police work first hand through a variety of law enforcement related activities hands-on experiences.
To become an Explorer, students must complete an eight week basic training course. To be eligible to participate, students must be between 14 and 21 years-old, enrolled in high school or college, meet criminal background requirements, obtain a personal and professional letter of reference, and complete an interview board.
Once accepted, students are trained in a variety of areas including: arrest and search procedures, building searches, traffic stops, criminal and Constitutional law, ethics, first aid/CPR and others.