Cadets from Zhejiang Police College meet officers from the Houston Police Department.
Ruiren “David” Zhang rolled up on the aftermath of a drive-by shooting in Houston. While the seriously wounded 16-year-old victim was on his way to the hospital, the suspect was still at large. From outside the police barrier, he watched police scour the scene for bullets and a weapon, saw interviews with witnesses, and watched television camera crews hover over the area.
“It was very good experience and one I will treasure for my life,” said Zhang. “It helped us to see the way American police deal with cases and the way American police are organized into different departments and branches.”
Zhang is one of 20 police cadets participating in a dual degree program at Sam Houston State University (SHSU). As part of a five-day internship, some of the cadets were hosted for the first time by the Houston Police Department, while other joined the Alvin Police Department for the fifth year of this unique international exchange program. The focus of the internships was community policing, and cadets participated in ride-alongs and visit to the Houston Police Academy, local police departments and courtrooms.
ZPC cadets are hosted during the internship by families from the Houston Police Department.As part of the internship, cadets were hosted at the homes of local police officer and department staff, which provided a glimpse into the day to day life of local police, both on and off the job.
“We treated each other like close friends,” said Zhang of his host officer. “He is a good person, a good guy and he has lots of friends.”
All Houston police personnel who hosted students reported a positive experience. Some students developed very close relationships with their host families, and many tears were shed at the farewell banquet as their time together drew to a close.
“I think the program was as beneficial and enlightening to the American hosts as it was to our Chinese guests,” said Executive Chief Kirk Mundane, who hosted an intern and the group sponsor at his home. .“ Without exception, our host families are eager to participate again next year, and we are proud to be a small part of bringing positive change to the law enforcement profession in China.
Both ZPC and police department personnel report the internship as a positive experience.For many of the cadets, this is the highlight of their year-long studies at SHSU.
“The internship allows the cadet to see how the concepts read about in books and discussed in classrooms actually play out in the real world,” said Dr. Phillip Lyons, a professor at the College of Criminal Justice and coordinator of the internship. “This experiential learning opportunity is rare and we think it is essential to a thorough understanding of policing and criminal justice in the United States.”
Since 2007, Sam Houston State University has welcomed police cadets from ZPC to study at its College of Criminal Justice for a year. The program has grown to include a dual degree with ZPC, where cadets spend a year studying at SHSU, and faculty from the SHSU go to China to teach. The College partners with Houston and Alvin – and League City in previous years – to provide the internship opportunities.
Cadets and officer share police practices and procedures from their countries.“The internship is a critical part of this program,” said Guoliang Fu, President of ZPC. “Through the internship, students can experience individually how American policing works, understanding the philosophy and procedures of law enforcement. Besides, it contributes to the deeper understanding of advanced American policing. It has been proven that the internship plays a vital role in promoting students’ abilities in international police cooperation.”
To kick off the 2014 program, Houston Mayor Annise D. Parker presented a Proclamation declaring Jan. 8, 2014 as “Sam Houston State University International Police Exchange Day,” saying the goal of the program “is to advance mutual understanding of law enforcement structures and processes among police professionals in each country, promote international cooperation and to build professional friendships by facilitating reciprocal visits among American and Chinese police representatives, professors and criminal justice students.”
Friendships often continue between cadets and their host families.Since the program began in 2007, SHSU has enrolled 180 international policing cadets from ZPC in the program, with 84 coming to SHSU to study. In addition, 30 faculty members from SHSU have traveled to China to teach at ZPC.
In 2014, 20 Chinese cadets participating in the program at SHSU, an increase of 25 percent over previous years.
Dr. Lyons said the internship provides “valuable experience” for the Chinese students.
Munden also thanked the Houston Police Department employees who hosted Chinese students.
“This is an important job,” said Munden. “You will provide us with global good will. You can’t put a price on that.”
Zhang said the SHSU program is very prestigious in China, and the police internship component is the only offered in the entire country.
“Our project is one of the best police exchange programs and I am proud to be a part of it,” Zhang said. “I am thankful to Houston and Alvin that that they gave us this good chance to expand our knowledge.”
Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award baccalaureate, master and Ph.D. degrees. Zhejiang Police College is not accredited by SACS Commission on Colleges and the accreditation of Sam Houston State University does not extend to or include Zhejiang Police College or its students. Further, although Sam Houston State University agrees to accept certain course work from Zhejiang Police College to be applied toward an award from Sam Houston State University, that course work may not be accepted by other colleges or universities in transfer, even if it appears on a transcript from Sam Houston State University. The decision to accept course work in transfer from any institution is made by the institution considering the acceptance of credits or course work.