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Two Forensic Science Majors Serve Local Law Enforcement Internships

Captain Kimothy Monroe (right) congratulates Brittany Parrish of St. Andrews Presbyterian College on the successful completion of her internship at the Laurinburg Police Department.
John Coppolo (seated) tries out the sheriff’s chair during his internship at the Scotland Sheriff’s Department under Sheriff Shep Jones (left) and Chief Deputy Steve Smith.

           “There’s only so much you can learn from a book,” said Brittany Parrish, a senior Forensic Science major at St. Andrews Presbyterian. For her and classmate John Coppolo, going beyond the classroom this semester meant participating in law enforcement internships in Scotland County.

         Parrish landed at the Laurinburg Police Department while Coppolo experienced the Scotland Sheriff’s Department.

         “One of my biggest interests with the Sheriff’s Department was seeing the law enforcement side of things as opposed to my classes,” said Coppolo. “I got to see how they processed evidence through the State Bureau of Investigation.”

         St. Andrews students frequently participate in local internships that give them real-world experience. With a growing Forensic Science program, the college has more students available for law enforcement internships.

         Captain Kimothy Monroe oversaw Parrish’s internship at the police department while Chief Deputy Steve Smith supervised Coppolo.

         “We always welcome our interns here,” said Monroe. “They learn a lot and sometimes we learn a lot from them. They bring youth.

       “We want to learn what they think and how they think about law enforcement. Sometimes we’re able to learn from them based on what they think.”

         Monroe and Smith agreed that this year’s law enforcement interns were well prepared for their experience.

         “Brittany has a large amount of discipline and she’s been able to interact and learn from our officers,” said Monroe. “We try to give interns something they can use in real life.”

         Smith said that Coppolo was well screened and ready for placement with the sheriff’s department.

         “He was not high maintenance,” said Smith with a smile. “He now has a good grasp of what we do. He shadowed some crime scenes including a homicide. He got to see how techniques taught in the classroom are applied in the field.”

         Coppolo spent time with detectives, patrol officers, and the school resource officer. But the learning went both ways.

“When I brought up my blood spatter analysis class, the detectives said they had experience with that,” said Coppolo. “They can see how a suspect or victim travels – whether crawling, standing, or kneeling – based on the blood spatter pattern.”

         The relationship between St. Andrews and the Sheriff’s Department will take a further step this fall. Smith will become part of the college’s adjunct faculty, teaching a course in ethical decision-making in criminal justice settings for the Forensic Science program.

         “It’s a bit of a commitment we’re going to have with St. Andrews,” said Smith. “I have been strongly supported by Sheriff Shep Jones to develop our relationship.”

         Both Coppolo and Parrish saw how local law enforcement differs with the images portrayed on television.

         “It’s nothing like what you see on television,” said Parrish. She shadowed the department’s narcotics, general crime investigation, telecommunications, and K-9 unit.

         “My responsibilities vary from day to day and they vary from each department,” she said. “Sometimes I am just an observer or note taker, but I have had hands-on responsibilities like searching a female and sitting with younger females that have come to the department for interviews.

         “I have also helped keep scenes secure and I am usually another eye to help the officers or detectives.”

         Parrish applied the principles she learned in the classroom to the internship. Officers would ask her questions to test her knowledge.

         “They are usually teasing, but I can use the general knowledge I have learned here and impress them,” she said. “They have also asked me what I have thought of about certain suspects or people who have come in to talk, and I have been able to use psychology information to tell them what I think.”

         She spoke of the officers who also use psychology in questioning witnesses or suspects, able to determine whether the truth is being spoken.

         “The internship has opened my eyes to what law enforcement personnel have to go through,” she said. “I knew the job was stressful, but I have been able to see how their job impacts the rest of their lives.

         “I have been able to see what the people in each department have to do. I was not aware of how some jobs worked and the responsibilities people hold. It was nice to see how each department does things and I have learned a lot from them.”

         Parrish and Coppolo will follow career paths that their internships will help. Parrish eventually wants to work for the federal government doing intelligence work while Coppolo has applied to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

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