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Explorers program 'temporarily' suspended

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Teens and young adults took to Facebook Tuesday night seeking answers as to why the Bardstown Police Explorers program meetings had suddenly been halted.

“As soon as I got out of the car I got a text that said (the meeting) was canceled,” said Mason Johnson, who has been a member of the local Post 225 since August of 2016.

In the social post and subsequent emails to area media, Johnson said an advisor informed them the program had been shut down, but no reason could be provided at the time.

In a phone call with Bardstown Police Chief Steve Uram Wednesday afternoon, the chief said he had removed the program coordinator from those duties for “internal department reasons.”

Uram would not elaborate further on the removal or status of the officer, citing it only as an internal police affairs matter.

“The post has not been closed,” he added of the program. “It has been put on a short suspension” and the meetings temporarily stopped until a new coordinator could be found and trained.

“We will fix it in time,” he said, adding, “I need to run my department the way I see fit.”

The Bardstown Police Explorers Program was founded in 2006 and offers teens and young adults hands-on experience in law enforcement and criminal justice through meetings, activities, training, competition and community service.

The idea of explorers originally began as a program in the Boy Scouts in the 1930s. Today, Police Explorer clubs and posts exist across the country.

Locally, the program has about seven members. A few current and past members of the program took to Facebook to talk about its influence and the announcement of its suspension.

“What bothers me most about the post being ‘temporarily’ terminated is that this action doesn’t only take the post from the explorers themselves, but it takes the post from the community,” Matthew Foust, explorer lieutenant, posted Wednesday night.

Posts and emails from Tuesday and Wednesday also credited recent success of the program to the direction of its coordinator, Officer Robert Monroe, who began leading the program a few months ago.

The Explorers’ command staff announced they planned to meet with Police Chief Uram on Friday. They shared a statement addressed to the chief on Facebook expressing their passion for the program and Monroe’s dedication to the group and its success.

“In the past, other advisors had tried to make this program successful,” the statement reads. “None so as well as Officer Monroe. He has been the most enthusiastic and hardworking officer to ever take over the difficult and demanding task of advisor. He has not only made the past explorers, but the new ones feel welcome and important in every aspect.”