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Meramec Police Officer Mentors Area Youth in Exploring Program
June 27, 2014
Time is a precious commodity, especially to police officers. Working long hours, holidays and overnight shifts is part of the job.
Even with the parameters required by his career as a St. Louis Community College-Meramec police officer, Ed Ucinski is incredibly generous with his time. Ucinski readily volunteers his time to several community organizations, including mentoring youth through a program called Exploring.
Offered by the Boy Scouts of America, the Exploring program is for youngsters ages 14-21 that helps them make informed decisions about their future career. According to the Greater St. Louis Area, law enforcement is a popular program in the Greater St. Louis Area Council.
What does an Explorer do?
“We focus on police training, which includes how to conduct traffic stops, handle domestic violence incident, building searches and even white collar crime, just to name a few. There are many activities at a post level and a cluster level, which includes posts from the surrounding area,” said Ucinski.
In alternating years, the organization participates in a local police training academy and a national conference.
Ucinski, who is also an Eagle Scout, began his involvement with the Exploring program as a youth from 1987-91.
“I knew that I wanted to go into law enforcement even when I was a child,” he said. “It seemed to be a very noble and honorable profession. Exploring was a way for me to have a first-hand look at what law enforcement does and to get a more accurate depiction. I had great experiences learning and had the opportunity to do many things that others did not.”
Those experiences included traveling to conferences and special training. “We even won some national honors,” he added.
From that point, Ucinski knew the career path he had to take.
“Doing anything else for me did not seem like an option, unless it was somehow affiliated,” he said. “Exploring let me know that law enforcement was something for me to pursue.”
As an adult, Ucinski has been involved with local posts for five years and is currently associate advisor of the St. Louis County post. When asked about former Explorers, Ucinski beams with pride and talks about their successes. This year, student graduated from the Police Academy, with a job waiting after graduation. Another is attending the academy and will graduate soon. Another is a police dispatcher, and still another received a Meritorious Action Award for treating an injured student on the Meramec campus.
Anthony Russo, Meramec campus police chief, lauds Ucinski and his unselfish giving of time.
“We are very proud of Officer Ucinski’s work with the Explorers and Boy Scouts,” said Russo, “Like most first responders, Officer Ucinski lives a life of service. He proves that every day he puts on the badge, but Ed goes further and continues to give by donating his personal time to organizations that are molding future of our next generation of first responders.
“On campus, Ed is very well known and liked by students and staff,” Russo added. “He engages those he meets while walking the campus and does a great job for the department and college.”
Ucinski said he stays involved with Exploring because he believes in the program.
“I believe that it is a great program for young people, especially if they want to go into law enforcement,” he said. “I have had the opportunity to meet some fine young people and see first-hand how they learn and grow into fine adults. It is really a pleasure to help teach them and see them learn.”