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Future police so well in competition

A man holed up in a house threatens to kill his wife. The negotiating team moves in. As the “primary,” Nathan Coats’ job is to talk him down and hopefully get both the husband and wife out without bloodshed. It’s standard procedure for a specialized law enforcement team. This team, however, is made up of teen-agers.

The situation isn’t real. It’s all part of a weekend competition that gives teens a taste of police work. Within 45 minutes, the wife is free and the team has successfully stopped the husband from committing suicide. For their efforts, they’re awarded first place and offered jobs when they turn 21.

“I think it’s really good training,” Coats said of the competition which ranged from marijuana field raids to SWAT maneuvers. “It opens your eyes.”



Coats, 18, along with five other South Lake Tahoe teens, traveled to Chandler, Ariz. for a competition that drew police Explorer posts from around the west.

Exploring is an extension program of the Boy Scouts. The program is open to teens from age 14 to 21. It offers teens exposure to different careers. South Lake Tahoe police officer Rebecca Inman, who is in charge of the local post, said they try to give the kids a broad view of career opportunities in criminal justice.




“We have 15 members in the post,” Inman said. “Beyond the job of officer, we expose them to possible careers as judges and prosecutors.”

Inman said the Chandler competition was unusual because it focused on tactical training.

“There’s usually more day-to-day police work. The kids have to analyze a traffic accident and write reports,” Inman said. “In the hostage negotiations competition, the judges were looking for teamwork and clear communication. They want to see the kids problem solving.”

Coats said the negotiations win was a team effort.

“You have a primary and secondary negotiator. So, it’s like you have two people talking on the phone,” Coats explained. “While I’m talking, the secondary is writing stuff down and giving me ideas. Other members of the team are getting background information to feed me.”

The South Lake team also tied for third place in the hostage rescue phase, which involved a five-man team moving in to get a hostage out.

Inman said the children paid for their trip to Arizona through fund-raisers. The team is now prepping for a competition in April that the Douglas County Sheriff’s Department is hosting.

Coats said he’s been with the post for a year and half and a career in law enforcement is definitely an option.

“It wouldn’t be a bad choice,” he added.

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