The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Explorer Program began in 1969, at the Sheriff’s Academy in East Los Angeles, thanks to the efforts of a few dedicated and visionary Sheriff’s deputies. The very first explorer academy class (Class # 1) started on October 4, 1969 with 22 recruits & graduated on December 22, 1969, with 16 recruits. The recruits represented the Norwalk station and the former Newhall station. Each recruit wore a uniform with a flashlight and belt holder (a tradition still utilized at the STARS Center explorer academy today). Instead of cloth badges on their uniform shirts, the recruits wore hats with an Explorer badge on them (see photo below). Because Explorer cap badges had not yet been created, the graduating explorers borrowed cap badges from their friends at the LAPD.
Prior to the start of the Sheriff’s Deputy Explorer Program, the Department had a “Junior Deputy” program, that was started at the Hollywood substation in the 1940’s, in response to a growing juvenile delinquency problem in the area. This program was only for males, ages 15-21. They wore uniforms and were subject to call-outs in emergencies. Sheriff Eugene Biscailuz is said to have paid for the first goup of Junior Deputy’s badges with his own money.
The Deputy Explorer program was originally viewed as a recruitment tool for future Sheriff’s deputies, but years later evolved into a character development program for young adults with an interest in law enforcement throughout Los Angeles County.
In 1984, the County of Los Angeles purchased the former Monte Vista High School campus in the unincorporated area of Whittier. This facility was named the Sheriff’s Training Academy and Regional Services (STARS) Center. The first explorer academy class began at STARS Center while renovations were still underway. The first explorer academy classes were held in the “A” building, and what is now the grinder, was then an outdoor swimming pool.
The STARS Explorer Training Academy has a rich tradition of providing explorer recruits throughout Los Angeles County with some of the finest and most comprehensive character development, law enforcement education and life skills training available.
The Explorer Academy celebrated the graduation of Class # 100, in 2018, and its 50th Anniversary in 2019. Since 1969, the Sheriff’s Explorer Training Academies have trained over 4000 law enforcement explorers. Many explorer training academy graduates have gone on to have successful careers in law enforcement, and many of them have returned to the training staff cadre to continue the “Tradition of Service”.