SHSU Intern Helps Protect Colorado River

 Carly Tipton on a Boat
LCRA intern Carly Tipton
By Trey Cawley

One of Carly Tipton’s first experiences working in her criminal justice internship involved evicting a squatter and his goats from a Texas island.

“The Lower Colorado River Authority’s western district Rangers were advised that an individual had been squatting on an island on Lake LBJ,” Tipton said. “This individual had transported several goats out to this island with the intention of claiming imminent domain. I went with two Rangers to take a boat out to the island, and we docked and began searching the area for the individual and his goats. We found a campsite in the center of the island and two of the goats. We documented the incident and referred it to LCRA’s legal department.”

Tipton accepted an internship this spring with the LCRA’s Public Safety Department to add experience to her criminal justice education.

The Lower Colorado River Authority was created by the state of Texas in 1934 to tame the Colorado River and bring electrical power to rural Texas. The maintenance of six hydro-electric dams and three power plants fulfills this purpose to areas such as Travis County and its surrounding communities. The agency also maintains parks, electrical substations, radio towers and telecommunication sites, and offers waste water services and recreational activities, such as fishing, camping and swimming.

Tipton looking at bridgeTipton, looking over the Colorado River.The Public Safety Department protects these holdings. As a part of her internship, Tipton worked with the Public Safety Department’s dispatch office helping stranded boaters, and she frequently traveled with the LCRA Rangers on patrol to land on or near the lakes and rivers within the agency’s jurisdiction.

“Making contact with boaters out on lakes within LCRA’s jurisdiction was really cool,” Tipton said. “I realized almost immediately how difficult it is to make contact out on the water with another vessel, due to the wake caused by other boaters, windy weather conditions, and the caution a law enforcement officer must exercise in order to not damage their own police boat or a subject’s vessel. Sgt. Snyder of the Western District Rangers taught me how to make contact with other boats successfully and had me practice out on the water.”

Protecting the LCRA’s resources is serious business. After 9/11, there exist broad threats to the welfare of the electrical grid and infrastructure inside the United States, adding a homeland security aspect to Tipton’s internship. In addition to this, Tipton had the opportunity to see what running directed patrol on various LCRA power and environmental assets looked like for a utility public safety department.

“Learning about the importance of protecting LCRA infrastructure was extremely valuable,” Tipton said. “I rode out with several LCRA Rangers on directed patrol of substations and radio towers, looking for any evidence of copper theft and reporting any discrepancies we found.”

Tipton flanked by two LCRA RangersTipton, meeting with a Game Warden and a LCRA Ranger.With these experiences, Tipton’s view of the power of internships has only increased.

“I came into college knowing that I would pursue an internship in criminal justice my senior year,” she said. “An internship gives one an opportunity to apply criminological theory in practice with a law enforcement agency. Acquiring knowledge in the classroom is vital, but real world experience before graduation is just as significant to a student’s future.”

“An internship can give a student a much more realistic perspective on what career path they should pursue,” she added. “Sam Houston’s CJ Internship program should be utilized by every student who plans to pursue a career in criminal justice.”

Tipton’s long term plan is to enter environmental law enforcement by becoming a Game Warden with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. She will take the skills developed from the internship program to accomplish this goal.

“My internship with the LCRA Public Safety department has been one of the most fulfilling experiences I have had as a college student,” Tipton said. “The rangers, dispatchers, executive officers and personnel, and investigators that work within the public safety department have taught me what it means to be an exceptional public servant, a hardworking peace officer, and an efficient guardian of environmental assets.”

Member of The Texas State University System