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“I’m not going to know unless I go there myself”: HBCU student interns for the Minneapolis Police Department

The Minneapolis Police Department cites an HBCU intern

The Minneapolis Police Department cites an HBCU intern


Jayla Hall is an emerging senior studying criminal justice at Alabama A&M University.

She was eligible to participate in the Police Executive Research Forum internship program, but her perception of MPD was shaped by what she saw on television, the coverage of George Floyd’s murder and the unrest that followed.

“I was a little scared, but at the same time I felt like I wouldn’t really know what it’s like up there until I go for myself,” Hall said.

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When she arrived, she quickly learned how Minneapolis cops are perceived by the people they serve and protect. And she found that it was a big difference from what she thought it would be.

“They’re trying to do their job, which is to protect the community and be able to interact with the community,” Hall said. “It’s not always about enforcing the laws and arresting people. To sit down and experience and see the magic behind the curtains.”

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Jayla shared the good and bad about her experience.

“Some people may be on the department only for their personal gain and not for the community’s gain,” Hall said, “I wouldn’t want to be around a police officer who doesn’t really care about their community, but I also know that that’s not the case. everyone, that’s really just a select few out of the bunch.”

Praise and criticism is something Chief O’Hara says he and the grassroots need to hear in order to transform the police force in Minneapolis.

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“This is the zero point in this country to find out if we can meaningfully reduce serious crime while building trust,” O’Hara said.

With hundreds of Minnesota High School graduates attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities — or HBCUs — each year, Jayla hopes they, too, take advantage of opportunities here at home.

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“How can you get these HBCU students to return? It really makes them feel at home, makes them feel like this is the community they really don’t want to stray too far from,” Hall said.

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