Newly inducted police officer Joseph Greene remembers being part of the sheriff's office Explorer program that introduces high school students to the basics of law enforcement.
During high school he and friend Ryan Howell shared the dream of becoming police officers, and as fellow Explorers they supported each other while learning about the profession.
That support didn't end when Ryan lost his life in an automobile accident Feb. 27, 2005: A memorial scholarship in his name provided financial help that enabled Greene to realize the goal they shared - to become a police officer.
When Greene graduated from the East Georgia Police Academy Dec. 5, he became the first recipient of the memorial scholarship to graduate. At the ceremony he was surrounded by supporters including his mother and step father, Rosemary and Darryl Adams, Ryan's parents, Kim and Jeff Howell, and Deputy Angela Jones, who mentored both students when they were Explorers.
"The Howells have just been fantastic," Mrs. Adams said. The emotional support as well as the financial help from the scholarship was a great encouragement to her son, she said.
Greene has had the dream of entering law enforcement for several years. He always wanted to help others, especially those in the community who were the most vulnerable, she said.
"He is a very compassionate young man."
Encouraged by his step father, a Richmond County deputy, Greene joined Explorer Post 63 while attending Thomson High School. He and Ryan, a Greenbrier High School student, attended regular Explorer meetings and observed the daily operations of the sheriff's office.
The experience solidified their desire to enter law enforcement and have a positive effect on their community.
"They both wanted to work for the sheriff's department together," Mrs. Adams said.
After the accident, Greene said he continued to work toward his goal for himself, for his friend Ryan and for all those he might help by becoming a police officer.
"I'm just one officer, but I'd love to make a difference," he said.
Greene began duties the week before Christmas, and he credits his success to the support of family and friends and the encouragement from the Explorers.
"The Explorer's program is one of the greatest assets in the community," Greene said.
The program is open to those between 15 and 20, and those who are 14 years old and have finished eighth grade, said Deputy Sean Joiner, a program coordinator.
The program gives students an idea of what a career in law enforcement is like and covers crime scene investigations, accident investigations, traffic stops, officer safety and room searches.
"They learn responsibility, how to interact with the community, respect for community members and professionalism," Joiner said.
The legacy started by Ryan when he was an Explorer has continued, Joiner said. Just as Ryan inspired Greene, he has in turn served as a role model for a younger Explorer who wants to follow in those footsteps.
"Ryan was always enthused about law enforcement," recalled his father, Jeff Howell.
"We wanted to help other cadets interested in pursuing law enforcement," he said.
To contribute to the scholarship, The CCSO Explorer's Post 63 Ryan Howell Scholarship Fund, stop by any Wachovia Bank branch. All donations are tax deductible. For more information on the Explorers, contact Joiner at (706) 541-2855.
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