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A six-month stint in directing traffic, writing traffic tickets, learning ten-codes and riding along with officers of the Utah County Sheriff Department has left six Utah County high school students with a true sense of the rigors of law enforcement - and they want more.

With visions of entering the law enforcement field in the near future, Shaun Baker, 17, and Robert Seiter, 18, American Fork; Brandon Irvin, 17, Springville; Torri Martin, 16, and Mark Harmer, 17, Pleasant Grove; and Terry Hunt, 17, Orem, were honored as the first graduates of the Law and Enforcement Explorer Program, a weekly four-hour affair that teaches young people ages 14-21 everything from basic first aid to crime prevention techniques and crime scene search techniques.The program is administered by the Utah County Sheriff's Department in association with the Boy Scouts of America to educate and involve youths in police operations, to interest them in possible law enforcement careers and to build mutual understanding. For most, it isn't an easy road to follow.

Before receiving their diplomas, all six were required to complete a minimum of 61 hours of training as well as a physical fitness test and an older version of a police certification test.

"This program gives you great experience for later on," Irvin said. "You are out on the streets doing exactly what the officers do."

Of the 30 applicants to the program who passed the stringent eligibility requirements in February, only six were present Monday to receive their diplomas.

"One problem we run into with this program is that we disqualify 60 percent of the applicants," said Utah County Sheriff Dave Bateman. "We're very picky with who we take."

"You know what a lot of cops do, but you don't really understand all of the little things that they do," Baker said.

But the uniforms, code names and real-life dramas the youths experience does much more than educate those who take part in the program, said Utah County sheriff's spokesman Ron Fernstedt.

"It's part of the program to encourage youth to stay on our side," he said.

"A lot of my friends think what I'm doing is cool and they really respect me for doing it," Martin said. "It makes it all worth it."