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Roll Call

How OU student Zach Wood's internship put him in line to become a police officer

Two men posing in front of a police car.

Photo Credit: Robert Hall

Police officers in a classroom.

Photo Credit: Robert Hall

icon of a calendarAugust 25, 2020

icon of a pencilBy Patrick Dunn

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OU student, Zach Wood, had envisioned a career in the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. But his internship at the Shelby Township Police Department in fall 2018 sparked an interest in community policing. Now, he's in line to become an officer there.

Kimberly Byrd, OU director of field and student support, suggested the internship at Shelby Township PD to Wood and coordinated everything on his behalf.

"Many of our students live and work in Macomb County and want to secure jobs there," says Byrd. "We’ve worked with the county for many years to place OU students for practical learning experiences. Our students are able to network and open doors for future employment in the communities they call home."

When the Chesterfield Township resident began his internship at the police department, he was immediately impressed with the firsthand experience he received riding along with officers.

"They were so willing to not only answer my questions but show me anything I wanted to learn," Wood says. "When we would be in a squad car on a stop, several officers would turn their laptops toward me. They told me they would go to the vehicle – but coached me through what I needed to do on the laptop.”

Wood also spent time learning about other areas of the police department's work, shadowing the department's court officer and dispatcher.

"I sent him through the gamut of the department," says Lt. Jeff Bellomo, the Shelby Township PD’s intern coordinator. "It's not just showing up for your tour of duty and then just riding with an officer all day."

Bellomo, a 19-year veteran police officer, says that's to give students a well-rounded experience to complement their classroom studies and prepare them for bigger things.

"We like to find our future “best-and-brightest” when they’re in college. And, if they show promise, are ambitious and eager and display the attitude our chief is looking for, they have a fast track all the way up," he says.

Wood says Bellomo was "super helpful" in guiding him onto that "fast track." Wood became a Shelby Township cadet in Jan. 2019 – positioning him to potentially go on to the police academy and become an officer at the Shelby Township PD when he graduates from OU in April 2019. He expresses excitement about his new career pathway and says an internship with Shelby Township PD is "something I would suggest to anyone."

"I was learning a lot and it was just something that really piqued my interest, seeing how officers affected people in a positive way."

For more information on OU’s bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in Macomb County, visit OU Macomb.

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