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Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

The student news site of Wando High School

Tribal Tribune

Community spotlight: a natural leader

Junior works alongside local law enforcement
Mary-Hunter McCaslin
The explorers also participate in role-playing. “Cameron Brodene is practicing the administration of the horizontal gaze nystagmus test [while] I am acting as the individual being tested,” Neal said

Dispatch calls in. It’s a multi-vehicle accident. They start their sirens and rush to the scene. Traffic is backed up but they finally arrive. Junior Nick Neal gets out of the car and rushes to the scene. Bent metal, airbags, and debris cover the road. Neal begins to offer assistance to the officers he looks up to.

Neal has been a part of the Charleston Police Department Explorers Program for the past three years. Being the first in his family to take interest in law enforcement, Neal has seen the Explorers Program as an opportunity to build his resume and experience in the field of criminal justice.

“I was looking for a program for EMS and [was] directed to the city police department’s program and I started and really enjoyed it,” Neal said. “It is sanctioned through Boy  Scouts of America but offered directly by different police departments. It’s programmed for anybody 14-20 years of age who may be interested in a career in law enforcement. Essentially we have meetings once a week and every six months we go to a competition and we help with different events around the community.”

Within the program, Neal participation various trainings to build his skills in law enforcement and EMS. This involves regular weekly meetings.

“We meet up in our ready room, put on our duty belts, and do a uniform inspection. We might do a short classroom session for the training topic of the day and then we’ll go practice and learn the skills and then conduct scenarios on it,” Neal said.

In addition to learning these skills in a scenario-based setting, Neal has been able to put these skills to use in the real world.

“Once you’ve been in the program long enough, you [can] participate in ride-alongs,” Neal said. “Once you’ve been in the program longer you can start getting out and assisting on calls depending on what it is. If it’s something medical related then you can get out and help with that. If there’s paperwork involved with it then you can help take the report and run people.”

In addition to routine traffic stops, Neal has assisted in vehicle accidents involving injuries. He has even assisted in the investigations of fatal collisions.

In addition to field training, the explorers also train in a classroom
environment. “We are reviewing the indicators for the standardized field
sobriety test for a DUI investigation,” Neal said. (Laine Edwards)

“It’s definitely not something you forget,” Neal said. “The more that I’ve ridden, the more I get into a work mode. After the fact I will look back and be like `that was crazy,’ but when I’m there it’s like ‘what needs to happen, let me go do it’… I’d say the biggest time when my heart was racing in the moment was [when] I was working with a traffic sergeant and there was a Mount Pleasant officer that got hit by a car, so we were trying to shut down the roads in the city to try and give the ambulance a clear path to get through.”

As a first generation aspiring law enforcement officer, Neal has had to clear his own trail on the road to his career. Wando resource officer John Kane started the Criminal Justice Club in the fall of 2023. The club began with only a few students and has since grown its presence both in the school and on social media.

“I started the Criminal Justice Club to help shed light on all of the different career avenues there are in law enforcement,” Kane said. “Many people think that being a police officer is just driving around arresting people and pulling people over. I also want to create a better relationship with the community and law enforcement.”

With the startup of the Criminal Justice Club, Neal has been able to gain even more experience in the field of law enforcement through hands-on work.

“Criminal Justice Club lets me see a lot of different facets of the Mount Pleasant Police Department,” Neal said. “It looks good on college resumes and just making more connections with different police officers that I might be working with in the future.”

As the club’s advisor, Kane has seen Neal grow as a leader through the various demonstrations and events that the club hosts.

“Mr. Neal also participated in the SCALE competition that took place in Mount Pleasant earlier this year. A few of our Criminal Justice Club members assisted as role players in scenario based training that Mr. Neal was being tested on,” Kane said.

With many demonstrations and high-intensity training occuring many times throughout the year, the Explorers Program is a growing organization. Senior Cameron Brodene is also a member of the program. Alongside Neal, Brodene has found joy in making an impact in our community.

“Every other week there is some sort of community service [activity] going on. You get a lot of opportunities when you join the Police Explorers Program,” Brodene said. “It feels really nice [because] you’re not doing it for money, you’re just doing it to help other people.”

With his future career in sight, Neal is excited to continue serving the community through law enforcement.

“It’s a great feeling to work with other people and organizations to improve their lives and provide them with [the] support they

need,” Neal said.

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