Redlands Police Department Cpl. Chris Mead is the 2022 RESA coordinator and a product of the program. Mead began the inaugural RESA program in 1999 with an interest in firefighting. Over the course of his week with RESA, his interest shifted to police work.
Mead said that each year RESA participants who are interested in fire end up more interested in police work by the end of the week and vice versa. The goal of RESA is to expose local high school graduates to immersive emergency services training.
“Usually, after day one, we’ll have one or two people decide this is not for them and they leave,” said Mead.
This year’s RESA class had 18 students— four young women and 14 young men. The teens are from Redlands and surrounding communities like Beaumont and Bloomington. The program is free and funded in part by a grant from the San Manuel Mission Band of Indians and donations from local businesses.
Each year, participants are housed in campus dormitories at the University of Redlands. Local restaurants provide meals for RESA participants.
The Redlands police and fire departments start recruiting participants in January. Interested students apply, write an essay and get letters of recommendation. Ideally, RESA would accept 25 to 30 students. Mead attributes this lower number of applicants to a lack of interest in public safety work.
Over the course of the week, RESA students participated in Special Weapons and Tactical Training (SWAT), active shooter response training, a jail tour and much more.
The live firearms training was led by Officer Matt Knudsen and Sgt. Dominick Povero from the Redlands Police Department. Knudsen is a former Marine and a firearms educator. The day prior to firearms training, Knudsen went over proper firearms safety with the RESA students.
Several of the students had never shot a gun prior to RESA. The officers agreed that those who had never shot a gun before were often better shots than those who had, because the newbies had proper training.
Fitted in proper attire — a bulletproof vest, eye protection and ear protection — RESA students had the opportunity to shoot a handgun, a shotgun and a rifle. Three at a time, the teens sprinted downrange where three officers awaited them to instruct in proper shooting form.
Recent Bloomington High School graduate Alexandra Mayorga Galvan had never shot a gun before her RESA experience.
“It’s not like in the movies. But in reality it's a whole fundamental thing like there are like rules and regulations for a reason,” said Mayorga Galvan.
Ofc. Eddie Herrera told the students that feeling tense is natural the first time shooting a gun. He demonstrated how to determine a dominant shooting hand by forming a triangle with both hands, extending his arms outward, picking a distant object to focus on visually, and moving his hands back. He said that they can determine their dominant shooting side by which eye the space between thier hands naturally comes to. The RESA students mimicked Herrera.
Citrus Valley High School graduate Clarissa Hernandez said her favorite part of her week at RESA was team-bonding and pushing her fellow students. Hernandez has plans to study criminal justice at San Bernardino Valley College before eventually applying for the police academy.
Many of RESA’s students have goals of joining local police and fire departments. Mead said the goal of the program is to expose students to these intense training opportunities, so they know what to expect if they pursue law enforcement or fire careers.
Next year, Herrera said they hope to recruit even more students to RESA by using social media and other outreach techniques. He hopes that the Redlands Police Department will be able to hire more former-RESA students down the line.