KANSAS CITY, Mo — The Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department kicked off its summer internship program this week. After a successful first year, KCPD decided to expand its intern class.
Fourteen students in the internship program will get hands on learning this summer.
They will go on ride-alongs, shadow specialized units and spend time in the crime lab. The students underwent an application process to get into this eight-week long, Monday through Friday program.
For some, it is a glimpse into the career path and for others, it will provide a better understanding of what law enforcement does.
“I hope that something is going to spark my interest,” said Kathy Train, an intern.
Tran studied criminal justice as well as fitness and wellness at Park University. But her deeper desire to be public servant comes from her childhood.
“I had a very challenging past — my family grew up in like domestic violence," Train said. "So with that, I wanted to understand, after one of my relatives being arrested, I wanted to fully understand what happens afterwards."
As an officer, she wants to be the bridge between police and her childhood community.
She says her family’s story could have been different if they had a better relationship with police.
“I came in a culture where we’re not very vulnerable,” Tran said. “So I’m Vietnamese and like we said, we don’t really share a lot of our emotions or seek help.”
Fortunately for people like her, the KCPD summer internship provides an up-close look at the ins and outs of law enforcement.
KCPD Sgt. Bobbie King, who oversees the program, says the department goes well beyond crime and dispatch.
“We’re trying to move away from just ride-alongs or time in dispatch, but actually get a chance to talk to the people and give a personal spin when they go to the units to talk to ‘em," King said. "Like what their life story is, where they started in the department — kind of what their outlook was on the department as well. We have everything from fiscal, to business side of things, we have our media unit.”
KCPD also hopes the program can be a possible solution to the on-going staffing issues. The department is still down about 300 officers due to retirements, resignations and smaller recruitment classes.
“We want to give them the best view of our department as a whole so that they can hopefully want to join our department,” King said. “A lot of our younger youth, we see that they want to be knowledgeable of what a job is and what experiences go into that job before they just jump into it.”
For Ella Tomasic, who's also in the program, the apple does not fall far from the tree.
She is considering a career in law enforcement after growing up with parents who are both officers.
“I think a lot of people view the police department as like only one thing — you only see the cop car, you only see the uniform," Tomasic said. "There’s so much more that goes into it and I hope from this experience, I’ll be able to gain a greater appreciation for it and a better understanding."
She believes the early relationship-building with community youth will also play a huge role in decreasing youth crime.
“The PD reaching out and getting in there early, making sure we see it, know what it is, find our niche within it is very important,” Tomasic said.