Agreement between county prosecutor, Rowan to streamline internship process for students

Agreement between county prosecutor, Rowan to streamline internship process for students

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Joined by representatives from Rowan and the law enforcement community, Gloucester County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton (seated, left) and Rowan Provost James Newell celebrate the signing of an agreement for internships for Law & Justice Studies students.

For years, Rowan University Law & Justice Studies majors have landed internships with the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office. Now, through a formalized agreement signed recently, the process of connecting students with valuable internships with the county’s lead law enforcement agency will become streamlined.

“This agreement will not only formalize the relationship we have, but during these very important times with law enforcement community relations, this will engage young people in making a positive impact on all the things we do in the prosecutor’s office,” County Prosecutor Sean F. Dalton said last month after signing the agreement establishing the relationship with Rowan.

Through the Memorandum of Agreement, Rowan will work with the prosecutor’s office to set forth a more standardized application process for students interested in landing internships in the county. That includes the development of a standardized application form, completed background checks and drug screenings and other requirements, according to Law & Justice Studies Professor Jeffrey Schwartz. Schwartz and Professor Stanley Yeldell, the department’s internship coordinator, worked together with the prosecutor’s office to establish the agreement.

“This is the first agreement of its kind in the state between a university and a prosecutor’s office,” Schwartz says, noting that the prosecutor’s office oversees 26 police agencies in Gloucester County. “This will streamline the process for internships for our students, creating a more straightforward path for possible future employment.”

According to Schwartz, the department is looking to establish similar agreements with other law enforcement agencies, such as prosecutor’s offices in other counties, the Transportation Security Administration, and possibly the New Jersey State Police.

The agreement with Gloucester County and possible future agreements with other entities are a win/win for both the University and for law enforcement, he adds.

“The state police received 17,000 applications for employment this year. If they have interns, it makes the screening process easier. It gives the agency a way to find the best job candidates and it gives students a chance to see the inner workings—what the work is truly like,” says Schwartz.

Altogether, Rowan Law & Justice Studies majors are placed in 200 internships annually, according to Schwartz. In fact, he adds, 90 percent of the interns at the Drug Enforcement Agency are Rowan students.

Like other policing agencies, the prosecutor’s office initiated recruitment efforts to make the county’s police personnel better reflect the population of the communities they serve. The internship program will help provide the agency with a diverse pool of potential job candidates, Schwartz says.

Dalton says the internship process is about more than giving students a look at crime fighting. Interns will learn about police community relations, bail reform, outreach programs that help people with mental illnesses, and programs that help those addicted to opiates.

“We also do a lot of work with the veterans’ community, trying to keep them out of our jail system, as well as elder abuse, focusing on issues of financial exploitation of the elderly,” Dalton notes.

Interns may also serve in the county’s highly regarded Victim-Witness Unit, adds Yeldell.

“And that’s what it’s all about,” says Dalton. “When it comes down to it, we represent the victims in our criminal justice system. We’re their advocates.”