By Arianne Brown
High school students from around Nebo School District are learning what it’s like to be police officers in a law enforcement internship led by Detective Rich Glenn of the Santaquin Police Department. This program has 10 students from Spanish Fork, Payson, Salem and Maple Mountain High Schools. Detective Glenn says was created with several purposes in mind.
“Due to police officers being negatively portrayed in the press, we’ve been getting less people interested in pursuing law enforcement as a career,” Detective Glenn said. “We not only need qualified candidates, but individuals who are genuinely interested in the job and passionate about public safety. We also want students to see what it’s really like to work in law enforcement, and to have a positive connection with public safety officials.”
The course has been offered before by several other departments and has traditionally spanned over eight weeks, which didn’t allow students the chance to really understand law enforcement according to Detective Glenn.
“The old program, or traditional programs, would have students do ride alongs with police officers and they would watch officers do reports,” Detective Glenn said. “It was often during a slower time of the day, and it was pretty boring. So, to give students more exposure, we decided to spread it out over 16 weeks with the students coming once a week for two hours during school. Many students have even expressed that they wish they could do it twice a week.”
During the course, the students learn defensive tactics and when it’s appropriate to use them. The class goes over firearms safety, building clearance and alcohol and drugs — where they see real drugs. They go through a virtual simulator using a gun operated by lasers, with a taser attached to the belt, simulating getting shot if they don’t react correctly. The students write reports, and are even put through a mock trial where they must testify in front of a judge. During the final week, they participate in ride-alongs so that they have background knowledge when they see an officer act.
“We want the students to get a realistic view of law enforcement, and that it’s not like what TV and the movies make it out to be,” Detective Glenn said. “Cops don’t become cops to shoot people. The use of deadly force should be avoided at all costs, and officer-involved shootings are not the way movies make it look like. When an officer is involved in a shooting, he or she is automatically a suspect in a homicide. It is important that these students know fact from fiction, and this course teaches that.”
Detective Glenn understands that there will be some students who join the course and leave not wanting to pursue a career in law enforcement, but hopes that even for those students, this course would have served a positive purpose.
“At the very least, I hope that this program gives students the chance to be educated and to have a positive tie with law enforcement. Officers are normal people with families, who are just doing a job the best they can.”
The police internship is offered through Nebo Advanced Learning Center for juniors and seniors who qualify. If your student is interested, or for more information, go to alc.nebo.edu/news/work-based-learning-internship-placement-options, then click on the Legal Internship tab on the Internship Placement Locations form.