Pictured (l-r) are Matthew Beard, Jerry Contreras, Ruben Villanueva, Sgt. James Prather, Stephanie Vera, Capt. Craig Gutierrez, Sgt. Gilberto Saenz, Lt. Christopher Zamora. Photo by MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

Members place in an array of competitions

Mauricio Julian Cuellar, Alice Echo-News Journal

The Alice High School Law Enforcement Explorers team brought home several awards during their recent competition in Pearland.

Participating as two four -man teams, the group brought home third place in accident investigation and a third place in hostage negotiation. Team member Gilbert Saenz also placed second in the Top Dog Competition, which is a complicated obstacle course students compete in individually.

Students in the Law Enforcement group training in several different areas, such as traffic stops both misdemeanor and federal0, hostage negotiation, accident investigation, building search, domestic dispute and crime scene analysis. At the Pearland event, AHS competed against 10 of the top groups in the state, including teams from Laredo, Houston and Dallas. The team sponsor is Lonnie Adams, and local law enforcement agencies, such as the Alice Police Department and the Jim Wells County Sheriff's Department assist with student training.

Lt. Chris Zamora is a senior, and one of the oldest in the group. He said the competition was pretty fierce at Pearland, since AHS was coming in as one of the smallest schools.

"Law enforcement is what I want to do. This is my fourth year in it. I want to be a state trooper, and that takes a lot of training," Zamora said. "I think that I'm better prepared because of our training. Lots of the past explorers have gone on to the academy, and know their stuff. This group is a step up, so that when I go to the academy, I will have a lot of experience already."

As a sophomore, Sgt. James Prather was put into a group where the other three members had less experience than he did. But he stepped up into the leadership role, and by working together as a team, they were able to place third in accident investigation during their first real competition.

"We were a new team together and we placed third. We just had fun and did what we could do, what we learned." Prather said. "The advisers we have, APD and JWC, they help us to understand these different situations, and taught us how to handle it. You just have to go out there and try your best."

Adams said he was proud of the team, and that they did very well for their first competition of the year. The Explorers have their next competition on Dec. 1 in Rockport.