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State College Police Department
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Tessa Miller

Major: Criminology 
Minor: Political Science, Global Security, Women's Studies
Hometown: York, PA

How did you learn about this opportunity?

A co-worker interned there in the past and recommended that I apply since he enjoyed the experience. He also knew that I wanted to become a police officer which is why he also told me about it.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

I went to several trainings that officers must go to every year or every other year such as firearms training and a driving course. Besides making observations, I assisted the trainers and also participated in portions of the trainings. One of the main features of the internship involved patrol. Going on patrol is the best type of experience because every situation is unique and unpredictable. You could be monitoring a speed trap, helping with an investigation or responding to a variety of calls. Another part of the internship dealt with the detectives in Criminal Investigations. I was fortunate enough to be able to work on a few cases in their phone forensics lab. The best part of my experience was meeting a lot of the officers and getting to know them during the patrol shifts. They shared stories, their experiences and advice about the job and how to go about applying for jobs.

The best part of my experience was meeting a lot of the officers and getting to know them during the patrol shifts. They shared stories, their experiences and advice about the job and how to go about applying for jobs.

How did this experience impact you academically?

Academically, I have a better insight into what police officers deal with on the daily basis. Currently, I am taking CRIM 435 (policing) and I am able to add another perspective to the conversation as well as debunking myths. I think that the public has a certain viewpoint where some parts are completely wrong or result from stereotypes in movies and television shows. I was able to see the reality of the job and real world situations. Being able to see things from different perspectives has given me an edge when it comes to breaking down scholarly information. I am also able to see how topics that I have learned in the past, are applicable in the real world. Some things look good on paper but the practicality is not always doable in reality.

What are your career goals and plans?  How did this experience impact them?

I am in the process of applying for Officer Training School for the Air Force since some departments, such as State College Police, are civil service. Therefore, veterans get preference points which push them above civilians most of the time. However, I am still going to apply to other police departments. Eventually, I would like to become a police officer. My goal was to become a PA State Trooper but I have learned to break down my goals and work my way up because the average age of cadets in the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) is 26 years old. The PSP take a hard look at previous law enforcement/military experience. Even though I put in my cadet application, I have learned to keep an open mind and to be patient. Many of the officers said to be patient because the hiring process for police departments (local and state) usually take months to get through. Through my experience, I am interested in getting specialized once I become a police officer. Many police officers have specialties and go through extra training such as getting onto the bomb squad or TRT (Tactical Response Team) as well as being trained to process a crime scene (fingerprint dusting, evidence collection, etc).

Would you recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students?

I highly recommend this experience to other Liberal Arts students because you go on patrol shifts and observe the daily life of a police officer. This first-hand experience cannot be taught in a classroom. Professors can teach you about the causes of crime and recidivism but until you experience the underlying struggles or the family environment of that individual, it is hard to truly understand why people make certain decisions based on factors that we do not talk about in class. Your perspective will widen and you will see everything a little differently.

For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.
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