Graduate students in the University’s Department of Forensic Sciences are getting a chance to work directly with law enforcement officers because of a new partnership with the University Police Department.
UPD and forensic science faculty established a volunteer officer program where graduate students gain both classroom and field experience for future careers in security. UPD Chief Dolores Stafford created the tutorial, which began last month as a pilot program.
“The goal is to target forensic science students in their first year of graduate education to apply their classroom knowledge firsthand,” Stafford said.
Students in the program are asked to volunteer six hours a week with UPD, meaning if they complete the program in two years they will graduate with 400 hours of work experience.
Participants earn valuable experience, Stafford said, and gain references and a background check that can be helpful when applying for jobs in the law enforcement industry upon graduation.
Chair of the Forensics Department Walter Rowe praised the new program, noting that two-thirds of the full-time faculty members in his department have been sworn officers at some point in their career. Graduate students that are part of the program will also be licensed security officers in D.C., Stafford said.
“It’s a win-win for the students and the department,” she said.
The program – which currently has nine students enrolled and hopes to get as many as 20 next semester – is broken up into three parts over a 16-week semester. Students spend six weeks learning security operations and patrol training, six weeks learning investigations instruction and two weeks learning about crime prevention. The program also includes 50 hours of in-class training.
If participants choose to continue the program more than one semester, they will continue to cycle through the departments and will be more able to see how the three areas work together, Stafford said.
Organizers also hope to incorporate work with the D.C. Mobile Crime Lab and D.C. medical examiner’s office into the program next year, Stafford said.