Junior Colin Hennessy’s desire to help people started in grade school. Back then, he would play pretend fireman, chasing his dog with a water hose and spraying water into the open windows of his house.

His parents put a kink in the hose. “Needless to say, my firefighting days ended as abruptly as they started after my parents found out the kitchen and living room were soaking wet and the dog was hiding in house,” Hennessy said.

Little did the Hennessys know that childhood pretending would eventually lead their son to an internship with INTERPOL in Washington, D.C., and aspirations to become a police officer battling narcotics.

Hennessy, a criminal justice and law enforcement major from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is one of two students spending spring semester interning in Washington, through a partnership with the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars.

When Hennessy applied for the internship, he wasn’t sure where he would be working.

“About a month before I was set to leave for D.C., I received an e-mail that INTERPOL had looked over my information and wanted to offer me a position. I was so excited about this opportunity and it was difficult to contain myself,” he said. “I had just gotten offered a position with a very prestigious federal investigations agency that assists law enforcement activities worldwide!”

Hennessy knows that getting experience with investigations is vital to his career. “Policing is about much more than just finding the bad guy and putting him or her behind bars,” he said. “Investigations are the major lifeblood of law enforcement agencies around the world. This is also a skill that is not acquired by reading it in a book but instead by getting your hands dirty and getting involved in the entirety of the process.”

Although he isn’t able to go into great detail about his work, Hennessy said interning in the counterterrorism division has allowed him to be involved at every level of international investigations. “I work directly with individuals from the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, ATF, Department of Defense, and the DEA just to name a few. I also get to interact and work with law enforcement officials from around the world. I am kept busy with many briefings, meetings, cases and other investigation-related activities.”

Following graduation, Hennessy hopes to enter into a police skills program and become a patrol officer in Plymouth, Minn. He would eventually like to become a Plymouth narcotics officer for the northwest corridor of Minneapolis.

This article, written by Deb Nahrgang, was previously published in the Spring 2014 Saint Mary’s Magazine.

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