BRIGHAM CITY -- Spencer Smith learned about himself and police work by joining an Explorer 911 Program on law enforcement when he was in high school.
Now, the Box Elder sheriff's deputy who wants today's teens to have the same chance he had is restarting the program.
Smith grew up on a Box Elder dairy farm where there was plenty of work, but he never enjoyed it.
During his senior year in high school, he went to the career fair and picked up a flier that reached out to young people wanting to explore a career in law enforcement.
The program, Explorer 911, was offered by the Box Elder County Sheriff's Office for ages 15 to 21.
Smith enrolled and, over the next year and a half, learned about a public safety career: making traffic stops, conducting building searches and even evasive driving skills.
"Even though none of it was real, I still remember the intensity," he said.
But Smith said he learned much more than how to be a cop. Being in the Explorer 911 Program was also a period of self-discovery during which he learned more about himself.
"I found I could think on my feet and that I learned quickly," he said. "That was something I didn't know I was good at."
Smith said he also learned things that might be classified as life lessons that have less to do with law enforcement and are more about being a responsible person.
"I learned that it is possible to conduct yourself appropriately, to treat others with respect without giving up your own personal worth."
He learned how to reach common ground with other people and how to be a better communicator. And he learned about teamwork.
"I am not just an individual going in to do a job," Smith said. "I am part of a team."
Smith loved everything about the Explorer 911 Program, but he didn't realize how much until he left the program to serve a mission for his church.
"It was a sad day when I had to turn my equipment in," Smith said.
He said he remembers a day while he was on his mission, when he and his fellow missionaries were deep in discussion. Something in him just clicked that day and he knew he wanted to make a difference in people's lives.
After completing his mission, Smith returned home and entered the academy at Bridgerland Applied Technology College, a move he said was "a hundred times" more exciting than even the Explorer 911 Program.
And going on the road to patrol was more exciting than that.
"Explorer 911 is just a bare taste of what it's really like to be out here," Smith said. "But if I had known how it would be to be on patrol, it would have been really difficult to put my life on hold."
Smith has been a deputy with Box Elder County Sheriff's Office for six years now. He has found that law enforcement is much like being at home on the dairy farm: It's a very demanding career that is made up of odd hours, and it can take a toll on a personal life.
But it's a life that Smith finds very rewarding, enough that he would have encouraged his brother to go through the Explorer 911 Program as well.
However, the program was discontinued several years ago because there was not enough interest from the public. That could change as early as January.
Box Elder County Sheriff Chief Deputy Kevin Potter said people have expressed an interest in resurrecting the Explorer 911 Program, so he's now accepting applications.
Applicants must reside in Box Elder County and be between the ages of 15 and 21. A background check will be conducted.
Those who are accepted into the program will be taught the basics of police work as outlined in the Utah Police Officers Standards and Training curriculum.
An open house will be held in January for people to learn more about the program. Then, if enough people enroll, the program can be started again.
For more information about the open house, call Detective Blanchard at 435-734-3803 or Deputy Archuleta at 435-734-3809. Or find updates on Box Elder County Sheriff's Office Explorer 911 Program on Facebook.