Foster Township Police Chief Tom Munn enjoys having interns, and it is a good thing, because he has had at least 20.
Munn's small department (five full-time officers, five part-time) takes at least one intern each year from the Pitt-Bradford's criminal justice program.
The program requires students to complete a three-credit field placement internship or conduct directed research. As the criminal justice program has grown (110 majors during Spring 2017 semester), the demand for internship placements has also.
Some students who come from out of the area secure internships in their hometown. This summer, students worked with a public defender's office in New Jersey, the district attorney's office in Susquehanna, the county sheriff's department in Mercer County and more.
However, a sizable number of students look for internships with local agencies. This summer alone, Pitt-Bradford criminal justice students worked alongside a K-9 unit in Conewango, Warren County; with District Justice Richard Luther in Bradford Township; Federal Correctional Institution - McKean; Bradford City Police Department; Olean (N.Y.) Police Department; and, of course, Foster Township, which took two.
Munn has had so many interns, that he has it down to a bit of a system.
“It really begins as a ride-along,” he said. “Initially, they're seen and not heard. We try to give them the chance to see most of what an officer does. Eventually, we get them involved in answering calls or taking notes.
“Law enforcement is a very good career, and it can be very gratifying, but it can also be very frustrating. These students get a chance to see both.”
Munn said he would have students fill out citations, which he reviews and signs.
There is no doubt that it is a bit of extra work for Munn, but he says it gives officers a fresh perspective.
“It's nice to have an intern from time-to-time,” he said. “It's motivating for us. We block out times to do different things that are beneficial to the residents of the township.” Officers make an effort to make sure interns see different tasks and situations, and they get to see their job and their home through the eyes of a young person - often one who is not from the area.
“The younger generation have different ways of thinking about things - both good and bad - and it gives us a different perspective on how people think,” he said. “We need to be able to adapt to the changing world.”
As a K-9 intern in Conewango, Katie Donovan of Warren helped the K-9 handler conduct trainings for narcotic searches, missing persons and tracking. She also learned how to conduct traffic stops, write reports and patrol.
“I believe this internship has helped me make up my mind about what my dream job is - which is to be a K-9 handler myself,” she said.
Joshua Walker, a rising senior from Rew, also had his career desires confirmed through his internship. Although he has studied mechanical engineering and has a degree in construction management, he decided that he wanted to pursue a career in corrections.
At FCI McKean this summer, he worked with reentry affairs coordinator Cheri Harrington to learn about prisoner reentry programs.
“I like helping people find their way and better understanding why they do what they do,” he said. With his experience in construction management, he would like to work with vocational training in the Bureau of Prisons, but knows he may begin as a corrections officer.
He said he received good advice about his career and working with inmates from everyone from the corrections officers to the warden. Several of the corrections officers he spoke with had also been Pitt-Bradford interns.
Although he had decided he wanted to work in corrections when he returned to school at Pitt-Bradford to study criminal justice, Walker had not actually been in a prison until his internship this summer. “It was shock and awe for the first bit,” he said of his reaction to the security and the inmates.
Working with the prisoners in the re-entry program, “You could see those that were in the right mindset. They're good people. They just made mistakes, especially with drugs. They deserve the same chance everyone else has.”