What Are the Different Types of Police Internships?

Misty Amber Brighton

Students who are pursuing a degree in criminal justice may want to consider doing police internships in order to gain valuable work experience. These internships could be done at the local, state, or national level. They might involve working alongside an officer who is patrolling a district and responding to emergency calls. This type of volunteer work could also be done inside a jail or prison, where an intern could be expected to learn procedures related to custody and control of offenders. Summer internships as an investigator are sometimes available and might include collecting and preserving evidence or interviewing witnesses.

Police internships may be available to students interested in a criminal justice degree.
Police internships may be available to students interested in a criminal justice degree.

Police internships are often available for college students who are working toward a degree in criminal justice. Many of these are found in city or county police departments. Interns may be assigned to work alongside a seasoned patrol officer in order to get a feel for what the job entails. This could be done by patrolling the officer's beat, making routine traffic stops, or responding to calls from the public.

Investigative work, including prison interviews, make up one of many available police internships.
Investigative work, including prison interviews, make up one of many available police internships.

In addition to local agencies, state and federal governments also offer police internships. These could be with an agency that enforces border security or investigates crimes against the government. It might also be with a state police agency or a national drug task force. The work performed during one of these student internships can range from writing reports to conducting investigations, depending on the agency.

Some police internships may be completely limited to investigative work. These internships are typically found with a federal agency that investigates federal crimes or those that are very secret in nature. In the United States, one such agency is known as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Prisons are sometimes a source of police internships. People doing this type of volunteer work could assist with transporting offenders from one facility to the next, writing reports, or supervising visitation. Interns might also be called on to help maintain a count of prisoners in each cellblock. This work experience is normally obtained under the direct supervision of a warden or shift supervisor.

Most police internships are unpaid, but some programs may offer interns a small salary. The amount can vary based upon the agency, length of the program, and type of work performed. Even if an individual performs an unpaid internship, the work experience she gains from doing so could be extremely valuable when it is time to look for full-time employment after graduation.

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Discussion Comments


@Feryll - I think all prisons should offer internships for students studying pre-law in school. If lawyers knew more about what really goes on in prisons then I think they would do better jobs. Seems to me that attorneys don't always understand the fallout from the way they defend a suspect or prosecute a case.


When I worked as a night auditor at a hotel, one of the security officers who worked with us was trying to get on one of the local police forces. He served as a volunteer officer at the city police department. The position was basically an unpaid internship, and it put him in position to land a job when one became available.


When I was a freshman in college, one of the guys who stayed on the same hall as I stayed on in the dorm was a criminal justice major. My roommate and I got to know him, and we got to be close enough that he invited us to go as his guests several times when his criminal justice class visited the local prisons.

Having never been in a jail or prison, I was a bit nervous and yet excited at the same time as we walked into the first detention facility. I was surprised at how much access we were given. I thought we would be put in a room and then a few prisoners would come in and talk with us, but this was not the case.

We were able to walk through the cell blocks with the guards and see the prisoners going through their daily activities. I went several times on the visits and I was always fascinated. The visits allowed me to see detention centers in ways I couldn't imagine just from what I had seen on TV.

These visits are great for anyone going into criminal justice, and anyone in general. The visits gave me a different perspective. I know prisons are necessary, but I still feel bad that anyone has to live in environments like the jails and prisons provide.

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