ECSO Explorers take third in Plano X Explorer Competition

Submitted photo.
From left, Ellis County Sheriff Explorer Matthew Aguilar, Lt. Gage Adams and Sgt. Ross McRee.

ELLIS COUNTY — Three members of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Exploring Program competed in the annual Plano X Explorer Competition on Oct. 24-25, bringing home a third place overall trophy. This competition is recognized as the most extreme Explorer competition in the nation.

Only 10 teams nationwide are allowed to compete and each may only send one three-person team. Representing the ECSO Explorers were Lt. Gage Adams, Sgt. Ross McRee and Matthew Aguilar.

The event started at 6 p.m. Saturday and ended Sunday at 7 a.m. This year’s competing teams were from the U.S. Border Patrol, San Antonio PD, Irving PD, Richardson PD, The Colony PD, Grand Prairie PD, Trophy Club PD, Coppell PD, Keller PD and the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

"The events this year were some of the most realistic and best I have ever seen," said Deputy Jeff Prater, who serves as lead Explorer advisor for the Ellis County Sheriff’s Office.

The scenario events included a vehicle pursuit, an open carry demonstration at a government building, officer down, political protest, someone impersonating as an officer and others. The scenarios chosen for the competition are ones that officers have had to deal with in real life.

Prater said he was particularly pleased with how the ECSO Explorer team handled the scenario involving a suspect who was impersonating an officer. In the scenario, the suspect had pulled a vehicle pulled over and was holding an individual at gunpoint.

"Our Explorers arrived and secured the area," Prater said. "They identified the ‘officer,’ who was wearing BDUs, a badge and a gun belt. He told the Explorers he was an officer from another department. Our Explorers noticed he had a police ID, but they still checked to verify his story. They checked to see if the ‘officer’ had a criminal history and found he was a convicted felon. Our Explorers quickly took the imposter down and placed him under arrest.

"As they were gathering evidence, they then noticed there was more to this offense," Prater said. "They found that the imposter had kidnapped a person and had them tied up in the trunk of his car. Our Explorers scored a 98 out of a possible 100 points on this scenario."

In all, each Explorer team competed in 10 different scenarios overnight. At the end of the competition, the top three teams were U.S. Border Patrol, first place overall team; San Antonio PD, second place overall team; and Ellis County Sheriff’s Office – third place overall team.

"I am very proud of our Explorers," said Prater. "The citizens of Ellis County will be glad to know that these Explorers are the future law enforcement officers of America, and the future looks bright."