Clara Graber

Clara Graber

2014 recipient of the Audrey J. Harris Summer Internship Award


Interned at the Madison Police Department

Majors: Legal Studies, Psychology, and a Certificate in Criminal Justice

Goals: To attend law school and earn a Master’s degree in social work

This summer I had the incredible opportunity to intern with the Madison Police Department. I was initially unsure what to expect but quickly learned that every day is different and that unexpected events occur on a daily basis in the criminal justice system. Although I did not have my own caseload or clients, my experience was unique in that I had the opportunity to observe an incredibly wide range of the criminal justice system. Within the Police Department I went on countless ride alongs with officers from all districts and shift times, attended K9 training, worked with a Neighborhood Officer and the detectives, attend Captains’ and neighborhood meetings, worked with the Forensic Investigative Unit, saw firsthand the process surrounding a homicide, and learned how Madison truly exemplifies the philosophy of Community-Oriented Policing. Outside of the Madison Police Department I was able to spend time with a public defender, spend time in court, see initial appearance hearings, tour the Wisconsin Prisons, view an autopsy, work with Crime Response Services, and spend time with the Department Of Corrections just to name a few.

Although I am not hoping to pursue a career in law enforcement, this internship has given me a great appreciation for the type of work police officers are responsible for. Many people have a negative view of the police or view officers as enforcers who are out to arrest and ticket individuals in the community, but my experience couldn’t be further from that view. The Madison Police Department has an incredibly diverse staff, from all different professional backgrounds. Their primary goal is to ensure the safety of the Madison community, and work with individuals and communities to solve problems in an effective way while building and maintaining relationships with these communities. They truly focus on the Community-Oriented Policing philosophy, which makes them a very unique police department.

One of the most astonishing things I have learned from this internship is how well my education has prepared me to enter this field. It is an exceptional feeling to understand reports, statistics, theories, and ideas that play a huge role throughout the system. There are however, things that a classroom education cannot teach or prepare you for and this internship has provided a hands-on opportunity to fully understand what it is like to work daily in this field.

I would like to thank the Audrey. J Harris family for their generous support that has helped relieve the financial stress of this invaluable experience. This opportunity has absolutely re-enforced my desire to play whatever part I can to contribute to the criminal justice system. Thank you so much for helping me pursue my passion!