*** DANGER *** : LAPD on course to takeover Explorer Program

With a pledge to develop a program that does not tolerate discrimination, Los Angeles Police Department officials said Tuesday they are on target to take over the Exploring Program on Jan. 1.

New uniforms, patches and other insignia will be unveiled – along with a new name – to make the long-debated transition of the program from the Learning for Life subsidiary of the Boy Scouts of America to the LAPD’s control.

“There has been a major push to get this together and we are there,” Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger told the Police Commission.

More than 3,000 young people – including the most recent graduating class of 220 members – are part of the program that trains young people to prepare for law enforcement careers.

The Los Angeles Police Department has been working for a year to remove the program from the Boy Scouts because of that organization’s policies discriminating on basis of sexual orientation and religion.

Paysinger said one of the biggest issues to deal with was providing insurance for participants, which was resolved with the city agreeing to assume responsibility.

In addition, Paysinger, Saltzman and others have been meeting with various organizations to raise money to support the new group.

Commissioner Alan J. Skobin said the new program has drawn requests for information from other law enforcement agencies around the country who also are interested in breaking away from the Boy Scouts.

Paysinger said the LAPD operates other youth programs, including the Police Athletic League and a program aimed at children ages 8-13.

Commissioner Robert Saltzman said he attended last week’s Explorer graduation, where he met with supervisors in the program.

“What was encouraging is they all support nondiscrimination,” Saltzman said. “Their only concern is that the program remains a success. We all want that. I believe this will be not only as good, but better.”

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