Senior criminal justice major Christina Bedard was yearning for an experience that would give her an idea of how a career in law enforcement would be. She originally presented the idea for an internship with SUNY Plattsburgh’s University Police. Lucky for her, she got it and started in January of 2019.
“I couldn’t get this opportunity anywhere else and it’s really rewarding because I actually figured out what I really want to do with my future,” Bedard said. “It’s also been rewarding meeting the officers and having role models to look up to.”
Bedard has been the only intern that U.P. has had so far.
Bedard said that she was able to receive hands-on experience and because of this, it confirmed her desire to pursue her career in law enforcement. She said that she would like to stay in Plattsburgh as a University Police officer.
“I was always intimidated by law enforcement but this internship really made me feel like ‘oh, they’re just regular people like us,’” Bedard said. “They just have a very serious job. They’re just everyday people.”
The best thing about this experience has been the hands-on work and the details regular people don’t get to see every day, according to Bedard,
“It really opens your eyes on what you want to do, you get real life experience, definitely something different than you would get in a classroom,” Bedard said.
While University Police interns do not get to experience the more heavy-duty responsibilities that the officers do on a daily basis, they get to ride along with UP who respond to campus calls. Along with that, they also get to observe the daily work that they go through every day. This allows them to see if they can handle this type of work, and if so it prepares them for a future in law enforcement.
“They typically are there to watch and learn and observe, but Tina was different. Tina was outgoing. Tina offered her opinion. Tina actually came along to some of our after-hour events,” Rascoe said.
Investigator Jessica Facteau notes that while interns may be there to learn everything they can from them about this career, the officers learn just as much from their younger counterparts.
“It’s a two-way street. We can teach the students just as much as we can learn from the students,” Facteau said. “It’s having this cohesive relationship where we’re equally inputting to it,”
Forming these bonds with the officers allows interns to truly learn the work that is entailed with police work. It also gives them more than enough time to really think if they can handle a career in law enforcement and if this is something they can see themselves doing in the long run.
Facteau explained how Rascoe gave Bedard the chance to play more of an active role underneath the layers of responding to calls. One example is interns can fill out the same police report side by side with the officer, as if they were filling out one themselves, just using fake names, Facteau said.
“The 18 hours allowed Tina the ability to really see a bunch of different shifts,” Facteau said. “It allowed her the ability to see if this was or wasn’t for her.”
“In these times, being a police officer is dangerous. We’re expected to do things now that we weren’t expected to do twenty years ago. We’re expected to put our lives on the line. There was a time where it was officer safety above all else, but that’s kind of out the window now,” Rascoe said. “Everybody else’s lives are more important than our lives and that would be a difficult decision for some.”
Rascoe said in our modern society, police officers do not have the best reputation right now and says that because of this, this line of work may not be for every student looking to work in law enforcement.
“We have an image problem, we’re painted with a very broad brush. There are some police officers that make bad decisions and do bad things and unfortunately what they have done has been stroked across all police departments, all police officers in this profession,” Rascoe said.
This internship with UP is a great opportunity for students who are interested to see if this can be a great fit for the life they wish to pursue.