At St. Joseph’s College’s Long Island Campus there is a motto painted above the security desk at the main door of O’Connor Hall. It reads Esse non videri — “To be, not to seem,” and it is a reminder to the students and faculty each day of why they are there. Time and again administrators will say that college is not a “spectator sport” in an effort to get their students involved on and off campus, but at SJC the students are encouraged by their faculty members to rise above the mark through volunteer work and internships. Each year SJC students participate in internships and volunteer in charity events such as the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.
For the past 20 years, the Suffolk County Police Department has run a student internship program with more than 350 students participating, initiated by former County Executive Robert Gaffney. According to Police Officer Victoria Seeger, the program’s supervisor since spring 2007, in its origin the program was designed to serve a class of seven per semester for two semesters. In recent years, the level of interest in the program has grown so much that the program is now designed to serve a class size of 28 students for three semesters a year, creating an average of 37 student interns per year for the last three years.
The program allows high school and college students who are interested in pursuing careers in the criminal justice field to observe the daily procedures of the SCPD, and is designed for “personal growth and benefit.” Internships are unpaid, but participating students receive college credit. Students who wish to participate must go through a competitive interview with the internship’s coordinator and, upon selection, eligibility for the program is then based on background checks and medical documentation indicating that the students are physically able to participate in the program.
This year, five SJC students majoring in criminal justice interned with the SCPD for three months during the spring 2013 semester. The internship enables students to participate in field trips, job shadowing and traditional classroom instruction. Students are also afforded the chance to participate in mass disaster drills and active shooter drills with the department’s Homeland Security & Mass Terrorism Bureau. Interns are assigned to their local precinct to view the different commands operating within a precinct and are also assigned to special patrol and various commands in police headquarters.
“The program is very broad, so the students can be subjected to all of the aspects of law enforcement,” Officer Seeger said, “The overall goal of the program is to provide the public with an opportunity to better understand law enforcement with class time and personal experience.”
Interns sample the comprehensive training that every police recruit must complete before they can transition to patrol duty and also tour the Riverhead Correctional Facility, the Holocaust Memorial and the Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove. The internship program concludes with role playing and the department’s firearms training simulator, allowing the students to apply everything they have learned during the semester.
These students also participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life event at the Long Island Campus on April 13-14, the first group of SCPD interns to support a cause as part of their internship. The students — Brendan McNamara, Ronald Flood, Michael Caparelli, Francesca Huwer and William DeCastro — were all members of SJC’s Big Blue team, along with Officer Seeger.
Each year the American Cancer Society holds their Relay for Life event at colleges that are a part of the “Colleges Against Cancer” chapter of the American Cancer Society. Volunteers attend and support these events in an effort to raise money for research in the fight against cancer. This year, SJC’s Relay for Life event had 34 teams with an overall number of 280 participants raising a total amount of $24,204.14 for the American Cancer Society.
The Big Blue relay team’s 15 members raised $2,265.58, surpassing their $1,000 goal for the charity. In support of their effort to raise money for the charity event, Officer Seeger, Francesca Huwer, Ronald Flood and Michael Caparelli all made personal donations. According to Officer Seeger, the team raised money by carrying out a Jail or Bail at the Police Academy, selling candy, hot dogs, drinks and hair extensions, holding a Chinese auction and soliciting friends and family members.
“I have asked previous interns to select an activity centered around our community that we can help with working as a team,” Officer Seeger said, “I explain that being a police officer is about serving your community. I want the interns to get that good feeling you get when you help someone, so they can relate to how an officer feels when serving their community. I encourage fostering cooperation between the SCPD and the public.”