by Jillian Stadig
High speed car chases, drug busts and bloody crime scenes are what the mass media has led us to believe life is like in a day on the police force. Over the summer of 2013, Nichols College sophomore Kim Whalen was given the opportunity to see that, in smaller cities, the life of a police officer is not quite so dramatic. Kim spent a large part of her summer interning with the Bolton Police Department, earning credits toward her degree in Criminal Justice Management.
Kim, who also held two other summer jobs, one in retail and one as a bank teller, said that she landed her internship simply by “being in the right place at the right time.” While sitting in the office of the Criminal Justice Management Program Chair, Professor Charbonneau, they noticed an internship opportunity with the Bolton Police Department. The College has worked closely with the Bolton Police Department on internships over the years. Kim decided to apply for the position and got her internship done prior to her junior year.
Interning with the police department gave Kim the opportunity to job shadow both officers and the chief of police regularly. She spent the majority of her time shadowing the chief, both in the office and going out on calls. Even in a small town like Bolton, there is never a lack of work for the officers, especially the chief. Through this experience Kim learned that the chief of police is responsible for many serious, sometimes tedious tasks, such as creating budgets, administrative paperwork, as well as planning and attending town meetings.
The most exciting part of Kim’s experience was shadowing officers on different calls, from routine traffic stops to car accidents and a possible suicide case. One traffic accident that stuck out in Kim’s mind was a hit and run that involved a tractor trailer truck. She was also tested with the case of a possible suicide. Once at the scene, which happened to be on a very narrow road, Kim was responsible for directing traffic in order to allow the emergency vehicles to get through. It was when one of the officers told Kim that she may have to enter the house and talk to the suicidal woman, because she was the only other female on the scene that Kim began to get nervous. Fortunately, the woman decided to cooperate with the officers and left the house unharmed.
One case Kim remembers as being “something you would see on TV” was a visit with a man who was a hoarder. One of the first things Kim noticed was the smell, “When we got out of the car, I could smell the house from a distance.” She recalls counting seven cats in the man’s yard, as well as a dog that had fleas and was missing patches of fur. Perhaps, in part, this experience has given Kim the desire to work for the humane society in the future. “This internship has definitely given me a positive view of the field. I love animals, so I would love to work with a K-9 unit or the humane society one day.” Interning with the Bolton Police Department gave Kim the hands-on opportunity to work in the field she someday hopes to be a part of something she would not have gotten simply from attending college classes. When asked if she has any tips for other students Kim said, “Try and get your internship done a year early, and do as many as you can.” The more internship opportunities you take during your college career, the easier it will be to narrow down what you really want to do after graduation. Who knows, maybe someday we’ll see Kim starring on and episode of Animal Cops.