Internship Leads to Royal Canadian Mounted Police

Canadian Mounted Police perform Musical Ride
Thirty-two members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police perform the musical ride.

Graduate Student Breanne Dolphin spent her summer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, researching books, movies and articles on child predators for that country’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Center.

"I identified every book that deals with strong pedophile themes," said Dolphin, a Canadian citizen and student at Sam Houston State University’s College of Criminal Justice. "It gave me a lot of insight into books I didn’t even know existed."

Dolphin’s latest internship will provide the national clearinghouse with insight into publications that promote child pornography and the abolition of the age of consent, as well as the latest research into sexual predators. It will be another piece of the puzzle for the agency to address child exploitation on the Internet.

Dolphin also got practical experience in tracking down missing juveniles in the United States during a 2008 summer internship with the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in Washington, D.C. She hopes her experience in research and practical application will help her land a job as a crime analyst.

Crime analysts help to identify patterns and trends in crimes, to assist in identifying and apprehending suspects and to devise plans to combat crime. Dolphin became interested in child exploitation on the Internet after reading One Child at a Time by Julien Sher.

"It is not something that happens to somebody else," said Dolphin. "It is happening everywhere."

Dolphin landed her Canadian post through the Internship Program at the College of Criminal Justice. The program offers practical experience in a criminal justice agency, allowing students to link their classroom studies with caree practice. Internships, generally offered during the senior year, include a full-time, 40-hour assignment in an agency for a semester. Undergraduates earn nine semester hour credits and graduate students earn six.

"We want this internship to be a great experience for the students and the agency," said Dr. Jim Dozier, Criminal Justice Internship Coordinator. "Many times internships segue into employment in the sponsoring agency. All allow for establishing networks that enhance career opportunities. Internship is a privilege, not a right, and these placements are competitive."

Each year, about 125 students in the College of Criminal Justice are selected into the program. These are out of the 300 or more that express interest or apply to participate. Among the opportunities available are adult and juvenile corrections and probation; city/county, state and federal law enforcement; private security; legal services, support services, victim services; and international agencies, Dozier said. Forensic investigative internships also are available.

While Dolphin focused on research during her time in Canada, she also learned about other aspects of the agency, which included case analysis, triage and victim/suspect identification for online child pornography. For example, the agency was developing a database of identifying information from all school districts in the county to help track down victims. A lot of times, the only identifying marks are the clothes they wear in videos.

It also was studying sex tourism, where sexual predators from Canada traveled to other parts of the world to exploit children. Canadian law allows those suspects to be charged with a crime in Canada, even when the offense take place in another country.

Finally, Dolphin was shown how a case unfold from a chat room in Philadelphia that was traced back to a school computer used by a music teacher in Quebec.

"I got to see how each section worked,' said Dolphin. "The victim identification section was amazing. They could track down a razorblade in a bathroom to the country of origin. Just because a picture is on a Canadian computer doesn’t mean it’s from there."

Breanne Dolphin at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Dolphin also got to track victims firsthand during a internship as an undergraduate at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta. While at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in Washington DC,, she helped track a 12-year old girl on a Greyhound bus from a northern state on her way to meet a 47-year-old Texas man she met on the Internet. She also located a 14-year old runway that taunted police that she would never be found on her MySpace account.

"It was daunting,” said Dolphin. "They throw you right in the middle of it and said 'Go find these children.' You had your own case files, and you talked to law enforcement, parents and grandparents. I found out every child in America is on MySpace."

At the internship in Washington, DC, Dolphin was charged with finding 20 to 30 missing children. One of her cases, Vermont’s first Amber Alert notification, was found murdered.

"It got my creative juices flowing, and I had to think 'Where would these kids hang out; we would they be going?'" said Dolphin. "It would be different if it was a 12-year old boy or a 12 year old girl. It taught me to be patient and the you are not always going to get the outcome you want."

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