Bardstown Police Explorers program put on hold, explorers fighting for answers

BARDSTOWN, Ky. (WDRB) –- A program that gives teens and young adults a chance to learn from police officers has suddenly been put on hold.

Bardstown Police Chief Steve Uram says the program was put on hold because the officer in charge has been suspended, however parents and advisers say that officer was one of the best things to happen to the explorers program.

Cell phone video shows the Bardstown Police Explorers performing mock traffic stops and also having a little fun.

“OK, I'm going to go ahead and issue you a citation,” said one of the explorers.

“To him, I know it’s his favorite thing to do," said Stephanie Johnson, whose son is in the program. "He wants to be a police officer, and he's grown a lot."

Johnson says the program is already preparing her son, Mason Johnson, for his future career plans.

“Just making sure you're looking back when you're walking back to your car. Make sure their hands are on the steering wheel. Make sure the trunk is not open and there are no other passengers in the car,” Mason Johnson said.

But that education for Mason Johnson and his fellow explorers was suddenly put on hold Tuesday night with future meetings canceled. Chief Uram says Officer Robert Monroe, the program adviser, has been suspended. The chief wouldn’t say why, but says he still works for the department.

“Our explorers loved him," said Shawana Stansbury, a civilian adviser for the explorers program. "When they found out about it, they were all heartbroken. They're like no, we've got to get him back. We want him back."

Stansbury says Officer Monroe took over the program a few months ago and hit the ground running.

“He sent out a schedule -- we literally have meetings planned out until June of different classes and he's got uniforms ordered,” she said.

Stansbury adds the explorer program is needed now more than ever before.

“It gives them a place to go, something to do," Stansbury said. "It gives them that respect for law enforcement and understanding -- like this is why this officer has to do this."

And she and the explorers say they will fight to keep it alive.

“I can't stand to see it go," Stansbury said. "This is my family, and I'm not going to stop ... I'm not going to let it end."

The chief says the future of the explorers program remains in jeopardy until a new officer steps up to volunteer.

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