Jonathan Portillo is not your typical officer going through the Salt River Police Department (SRPD) 16-week field officer training program. He is the first police officer for the department who was also an SRPD Police Explorer.
Off. Portillo entered the SRPD Explorer Program, a department-sponsored career education program targeting youth under 21 who are interested in careers in law enforcement, in 2011. He became interested in being a police officer with the SRPD at a very young age because his father-in-law was a former sergeant here.
“He introduced me into this world and scheduled me for a ride-along,” said Portillo. “That is when I got to see just a part of what it was like, and I had a lot of fun doing so.”
Once Portillo became aware of the SRPD Explorer program, he signed up and was with the program for two years before being hired as a police officer for the Community in late 2014. Portillo entered the academy in January 2015 and graduated on June 26, 2015. Off. Portillo said the Explorer program helped him while he was in the academy because he had already been exposed to much of the training he received and was not as overwhelmed as some of the other recruits.
According to Off. Portillo, “The things I learned from the SRPD Explorer program specifically helped me to establish myself here rather than somewhere else. Core values that corrI already had set within myself were supplemented by the Explorer program, such as accountability, integrity, etc.”
Off. Portillo said he looks forward to becoming a solo police officer and he knows he will have the knowledge and confidence to handle situations on his own. He said he would absolutely recommend the Explorer program to anyone who has an interest in police work.
“The program also creates a fun and new learning environment that requires self-dedication and discipline,” he said.
“I am especially supportive of the SRPD Explorer Program because it is a pathway for our Community youth to become members of the police department,” said SRPD Chief Patrick Melvin. “We integrate and assimilate them early, keep them engaged, and when they [reach] 20 years and 6 months, we send them to the police academy so that they can come back and protect and serve their Community. It is an excellent program, and I encourage more of our Community youth to join the SRPD Explorers.”
The SRPD Field Training Program is a 16-week program that requires all newly hired officers to ride with several training officers who coach, mentor and evaluate the officer’s readiness to serve the Community as a solo beat officer.