It’s great being able to create a pathway to put students in a position to succeed. The program not only bridged the gap between police and the BSU community but created pathways for students to succeed and that’s what it’s all about.
This past year a new program was put in place at Bridgewater State University that created paid internships for students with the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Office.
The program, BSUPD Building Bridges, was created by Bridgewater State University Police Department(BSUPD) Community Liaison Aboubacar Diakite.
“The whole purpose behind the program is to create a partnership with the BSU and local police departments to create connections,” he said.
Since arriving on campus over a year ago, Diakite’s mission as community liaison has been to build bridges to help close the divide that often exists between police and members of the campus community.
To launch BSUPD Building Bridges he reached out to criminal justice Assistant Professor Dr. Luzi Shi to see if she would be willing to collaborate and incorporate components of the program into her curriculum.
“I wanted to bring professionals in the field to the students,” Diakite said.
Shi agreed and members of the BSUPD and Plymouth County Sheriff departments visited Shi’s class to share what it’s like to work in law enforcement.
“It’s important to have these meetings for students to learn directly from the folks actually doing the work,” Diakite said.
He wanted to bring in community allies as well as members of the BSUPD to provide diverse examples of how law enforcement operates.
“Having a full-functioning law enforcement agency here on campus allows our students to learn directly from our officers,” Diakite said. “I also reached out to the Plymouth County Sheriff’s department because I felt it would provide an opportunity to expose our students to the corrections world.”
Through BSUPD Building Bridges, students also made an off-site visit and traveled to the Plymouth County Sheriff’s Department headquarters located in Plymouth.
“We were taken into a unit, a cell and were able to really see what it’s like to work in those environments,” Diakite said.
With a relationship now established, Diakite wanted to do more for the students and worked with the sheriff’s department to see if they could possibly create internship opportunities for BSU students, not just majoring in criminal justice, but in all fields.
The sheriff’s department was agreeable and together they were able to create eight paid internships for students studying not only criminal justice, but also in other disciplines including social work and communications.
“There are a lot of transferable skills involved in law enforcement, you don’t have to study criminal justice to be in the field,” Diakite said.
More than 20 students applied for the internships and went through the interview process. Those selected participated during the spring semester and at the conclusion of the internship presented what they learned to members of the sheriff’s department.
Things went so well that two students plan on pursuing careers as correction officers, Diakite said.
“It’s great being able to create a pathway to put students in a position to succeed. The program not only bridged the gap between police and the BSU community but created pathways for students to succeed and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
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