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Helping Hands

Internships with local police give students valuable experience

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If you have an emergency in East Bridgewater, Angela Pucci may be the one to summon help or walk you through first aid over the phone.

Angela, a Bridgewater State University student who is studying criminal justice and plans to finish her classes this fall, has turned an internship at the East Bridgewater Police Department this summer into a full-time job as dispatcher.

“You get an adrenaline rush when you hear that phone ring,” the Abington resident said. “You don’t know what’s on the other end of the line, and you always have to be ready.”

Angela is learning the ropes from department employees and undergoing training in preparation for her new job. She is among a number of students from BSU and other local schools who have held internships since the department began the program five years ago. 

The internships are part of a multi-faceted partnership with Bridgewater State. The department, BSU police, and other law enforcement agencies around Plymouth County are also working together to combat the opioid crisis and connect people to treatment and available resources.

“Instead of each individual community trying to do its own work, we’ve just collaborated across those jurisdictional boundaries,” East Bridgewater Chief Scott Allen said. “Bridgewater State’s played a key role in that.”

BSU students also aid East Bridgewater police in checking whether establishments holding liquor licenses sell to underage individuals. The department taps interns who are under 21 to conduct the compliance checks. Police send students into the businesses to attempt to buy alcohol. If they are successful, police refer the establishment to selectmen for potential punishment.

“It gives the intern a little bit of experience and gets them out there (with police),” said Deputy Chief Paul O’Brien.

While Angela is too old to participate in compliance checks, she has ample opportunities to learn first-hand about policing. She has gone for ride-alongs with officers, including an instance where police pulled over a driver for speeding. The internship introduces students to all aspects of the department, from making an arrest, to interacting with courts, to investigating crimes, to serving in schools.

Angela, who hopes to eventually become a police officer, has showcased her aptitude and attitude through her internship.

“In Angela’s case, we learned about her work ethic,” said Deputy Chief O’Brien. “I liked the drive she showed.”

In addition to helping her land a job, Angela said she gained more confidence through the internship. And, it reaffirmed the career choice of the one-time accounting major who hopes to make a difference in other people’s lives through policing.

While she’ll be juggling her work and school responsibilities, Angela is committed to meeting the challenge.

“I can do it,” she said.  (Photos by Brian Benson, University News)

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