Gregory Clark Jr. turned a summer internship at Crime Stoppers of Houston into a part-time job and a future career opportunity that combines law enforcement and community relations.
"I want to go back and get my Master’s degree and continue to work with Crime Stoppers," said Clark. "It gives me a chance to work with the community hands-on, to answer their questions and come up with solutions to make their community safer, their apartments safer and their areas safer."
Crime Stoppers of Houston, the largest chapter of its kind in the
country, is a non-profit organization aimed at solving and preventing serious crime in the Greater Houston area in partnership with citizens, media and the criminal justice system. It also keeps the community safe and helps to prevent crime in neighborhoods and schools.
Clark was part of the crime prevention team that spoke to homeowners’ associations, civic groups and apartment complexes to educate residents about the organization and to train them how to make their neighborhoods safer.
“He did a great job in educating people about public safety," said Katherine Cabaniss, Executive Director of Crime Stoppers of Houston. “He really made a difference. He was a good speaker, and he interacted well with the public on a personal level.”
Clark encouraged residents to form crime prevention groups and offered crime prevention tips. He also taught residents to use the organization’s telephone tip line 713-222-TIPS to provide information about criminal activity in the area. The tip line provides a anonymous forum for resident to report criminal activity in their area without the fear of retaliation. Callers are promised cash rewards of up to $5,000 in exchange for their accurate crime tips. The information is transmitted immediately to law enforcement.
"I got to train them to be watchful and to form groups like Citizens on Patrol," Clark said. “I taught them how to use the tip line and what to look for. I showed them how to be safe and where to post the Crime Stoppers signs."
In addition to public speaking, Clark performed administrative duties and participated in fundraising events to raise money for the organization. He also wrote press release and edited videos about new crimes and wanted felons and participated in press conferences to help solve crimes. Along the way, he got to meet Sen. John Cornyn of Texas and Harris County Sheriff Adrian Garcia. Clark was also featured in a Houston Police Department video from a Child Safety Seminar.
"This showed me the other side of criminal justice," Clark said. "This was not just the law enforcement side, but the administrative side of it, like press releases and videos."
Clark said he was able to apply everything he learned in classes at SHSU to his work in the field. For example, presentations he did in class prepared him for public speaking engagements before community groups, and lectures taught him the appropriate background and language for cases and offenses so he could communicate with police officers.
As a non-profit organization, Crime Stoppers relies on interns and volunteers to accomplish their goals. The organization has hosted two SHSU interns to date and said they were "excellent."
"We have found the interns from Sam Houston to be excellent," said Cabaniss. "Interns are critical to our work. High quality, outgoing, smart interns are very important because we need resources and staff to accomplish our mission."
The College of Criminal Justice offers internship at about 200 agencies, including federal, state, and local law enforcement and corrections as well as victim service organizations and private security. An average of 125 students a year participate in these programs.
Internships generally are taken during the last semester before graduation and include a full-time, 40-hour a week assignment. Undergraduates earn nine semester hour credits and graduate students earn six. Internship can lead to full-time employment opportunities or provide valuable networking for future jobs.