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Fallbrook welcomes first deputy explorer since COVID-19

Rick Monroe

Special to the Village News

It's been a big year for 18-year-old Jovan Durham, Jr., who moved from Vista to Fallbrook last year with his parents. He graduated from Rancho Buena Vista High School on June 8; and on June 30 graduated from the eight-day explorer academy program coordinated by the San Diego Sheriff's Department.

Durham will begin studies at Cal State San Marcos in the fall, majoring in criminology and criminal justice with the goal of joining the FBI after completing six years of study.

His new Fallbrook residence is perfect to be assigned to the Fallbrook substation, for which Durham asked. Lt. Aldo Hernandez, commander of the San Diego Sheriff's Department substation in Fallbrook, attended the academy's graduation ceremony.

"It meant a lot to see him there," Durham said. "I'm very excited to start helping in my new community of Fallbrook."

Hernandez was introduced to the Durham family at the graduation ceremony.

Jovan Durham, Sr. worked for the San Diego Police Department, as well as the Hemet Police Department, before retiring.

"I've always wanted to be in law enforcement, following my dad's career," Durham, Jr. said. "He's been a big inspiration in my life."

As a deputy explorer, Durham's duties are to assist the deputies, like the senior volunteers in the department, Hernandez explained. He noted that explorers are not permitted to carry a weapon and can't go on any hazardous duties.

"He can go on ride-alongs with deputies, but if they are sent to a dangerous situation, they'll drop him off at the side of the road," Hernandez said.

In his various assignments with the department, Hernandez said he hasn't led an explorer program. Durham is the first and the department has two coordinators in position to work with him and others, who may be coming onboard.

"I'm looking forward to the (explorer) program starting again," Hernandez added. "We haven't had it since I arrived last year (October) and it went dormant during the onset of Covid."

Durham visited the substation on July 5 and said he felt welcomed. He still has two meetings with explorer coordinators in San Diego before reporting to the station near the end of July.

Explorers must be 16-years-old and must leave the program before turning 21, Hernandez said. Parent/guardian approval must be obtained if under 18-years-old.

The training at the academy included classes in criminal law, patrol procedures, report writing, and physical fitness. Durham was in shape after four years of wrestling at RBVHS.

Upon completion of the academy, the student earns the privilege to wear the badge and uniform of a Sheriff's Deputy Explorer. In addition, explorers receive continuous professional training monthly in law enforcement-related topics throughout their tenure in the program.

Explorer candidates must meet rigid standards to qualify to participate in the program, a spokesperson said. During the application process, a complete records and background check will be completed, including contacting personal references. Graduates are asked to contribute at least 20 hours per month to the program.


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