Explorer Scout likes the field


January 10, 1993|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Contributing Writer

Eric Helm, 18, gets a thrill spending time as a volunteer at the Maryland State Police Westminster barracks.

In fact, so much so, he was recently named the Law Enforcement Service Explorer of the Year for 1992 by the barracks commander, Lt. Roy Neigh, for 385 hours of volunteer service.

"Our basic function is to assist troopers with their work," he said from his home near Westminster. "Sometimes we go on ride-alongs with troopers, assist at crime prevention programs held throughout the area or at accident sites.

"I even sit in the communication room and answer the phone. It's really interesting and you never know what you'll run into when you pick up the phone."

Eric joined Explorer Post No. 56 during his junior year at Westminster High School after reading a story about it in the newspaper.

"I've been interested in law enforcement since the sixth grade," he said. "My goal is to have a career in law enforcement. Crime really ticks me off, and the best way to combat crime is to get active and get the criminal element off the street where they can't hurt anybody. Also, troopers are a positive role model which I identify with."

To that end, Eric is pursuing law enforcement studies at Carroll Community College, where he enrolled following graduation in 1992 from Westminster High.

"I'm not sure whether I'll become a trooper or not," he said, "but I'm considering a number of options; it's a very broad field."

He credits the program with giving him self-confidence and an awareness of his surroundings.

"I like the opportunity to interact with people, and in order to be a good trooper you have to have those skills and also be willing to do mountains of paperwork," he said with a laugh.

"My inner drive propels me to strive for a career in this business," he said. "I respect those who have a desire to do this job and do it well."

Eric is a strong young man with a firm handshake, deep blue eyes and a ready wit. He is more than a little modest about speaking about his award, much less his achievements.

His experiences working with the state police have been enjoyable yet routine.

"Nothing really sticks out as terribly exciting. Here in Carroll County it's pretty much the same stuff, domestic arguments, accidents or petty thefts. Nothing really shines out because it's quiet out here," he said.

"Tonight I'll be riding down to Eldersburg with a trooper. Fridaynights are pretty big down there," he says. "Kids gather to talk with their friends and perhaps have a beer or two and then get a little rowdy. That's when we get a call.

"We simply go down and tell them to go home because the parking lot is closing. Sometimes you get a few big mouths who make comments, but when you carry a badge it goes with the territory," he said.

He also participates in Neighborhood Watch meetings where the state police demonstrate crime prevention techniques.

RF "I really enjoy the positive interaction with communities and asso

ciations," he said. "This is a positive activity and I enjoy letting folks know how to protect their property with visible deterrents."

"Eric is most deserving of this award," says First Sgt. Stephen Reynolds of the Westminster barracks. "He has given the most hours coordinating events and tours. He is a most reliable young man."

His citation reads, in part: "His dedication to Explorer Post No. 56 exemplifies the highest standards of community service and he has set an example for his fellow Explorers to follow."

He also received Maryland State Police awards for 1991 and 1992, and a citizenship award from the Westminster Optimists Club.

With what little spare time he has, Eric plays saxophone in the Westminster Municipal Band and is a camera operator at cable television Channel 3.

He will also serve as Explorer president for 1993.

"Who knows, someday I may run for a judgeship or a commissioner's seat," he says earnestly.

Those interested in participating in the program, which is open ,, to women as well, can contact Sergeant Reynolds at the Westminster barracks at 848-3411.

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