Immersing College Students in Police Agencies Can Improve Recruitment and Community Trust

Lessons From the PERF-HBCU Summer Internship Program

PERF’s two-year experiment in operating a student internship program found that deeply immersing students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) inside police agencies can positively affect their attitudes about police and their willingness to consider a career in policing. 

The report carries an important message for any agency interested in strengthening recruitment, building diversity, and improving public trust in police: “going upstream” in the recruiting process by creating internship programs can show young people what policing is about and the various career opportunities available in the profession.

Watch the video below to hear Sam Mensuphu-Bey, a Coppin State University student who interned with the Baltimore County, MD Police Department, and Immanuel Martin, a Howard University student who interned with the Prince George's County, MD Police Department, discuss their summer internship experiences.



Podcast episodes

To hear more about interns' experiences with the program, listen to the podcasts below.

Episode One

  • Immanuel Martin, Howard University (DC), Prince George’s County Police Department (MD)
  • Eberechukwu Nwanegwo, Lincoln University (PA), Baltimore Police Department (MD)
  • Sam Mensuphu-Bey, Coppin State University (MD), Baltimore County Police Department (MD)


Episode Two

  • Cierra Isaac, Harris-Stowe State University (MO), Chattanooga Police Department (TN)
  • Taina Harris, Harris-Stowe State University (MO), Washington University Police Department (MO)


Episode Three

  • Thomas Barnes, Morehouse College (GA), Chicago Police Department (IL)
  • Ayiana Newcombe, Howard University (DC), Elgin Police Department (IL)
  • Jayla Hall, Alabama A&M University, Minneapolis Police Department (MN)


Media coverage of the PERF-HBCU internship program

Howard University student aims to bridge gap between Prince George’s County community and police (DC News Now, November 3, 2023)

Minneapolis Police Department wants to recruit more from HBCUs (CBS Minnesota, October 5, 2023)

From Howard U. to Elgin: Police internship welcomes students from historically Black colleges (Suburban Chicago Daily Herald, August 28, 2023)

Internship with Elgin police an eye-opening experience for Black college student: ‘I definitely had a shift in perspective’ (Elgin Courier-News, August 18, 2023)

Baltimore County Police participate in HBCU Internship program (WMAR Baltimore, August 18, 2023)

College students learn about Baltimore County Police through HBCU internship (CBS Baltimore, August 17, 2023)

BPD participates in national internship program to give college students police experience (WGRZ Buffalo, August 14, 2023)

CPD concludes first internship in Chattanooga (WDEF Chattanooga, August 10, 2023)

College internship program builds trust between law enforcement and the people they serve (WFMY Greensboro (NC), August 8, 2023)

"I'm not going to know, unless I go there myself": HBCU student interns for the Minneapolis Police Department (CBS Minnesota, August 4, 2023)

Interns see Baltimore Police Department with ‘fresh eyes’ — and suggest wide-ranging reforms (Baltimore Sun, August 19, 2022)

Baltimore Police interns could help ease recruitment woes, improve community relations as pilot program launches (Baltimore Sun, June 21, 2022)