Roanoke College

Washington Semester provides variety of experiences in law enforcement

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  • Washington Semester provides variety of experiences in law enforcement

  • 05/08/13
  • Originally from the suburbs of Washington, D.C., Ben Rappold '14 returned to the area as a participant in Roanoke College's Washington Semester Program in spring 2013.

    Rappold interned with the Washington Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, after an internship with the Salem Commonwealth's Attorney's Office.

    "This is what I want to be doing," he said. "I definitely want to go into law enforcement. The only question is whether I want to work in local or federal law enforcement."

    As an intern with the ATF, Rappold got some help answering that question. He said he received an incredible amount of exposure to the world of federal law enforcement, doing "a little bit of everything." He organized evidence, copied audio files and performed other tasks while helping agents and prosecutors prepare for court.

    Rappold's work experiences in Washington went beyond work with the ATF. In addition to witnessing the serving of search and arrest warrants, he did ride-alongs with the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, Park Police, a specialized gun recovery unit working to take guns off the city's streets, and a vice group. "We get out [in the field] a lot," he said.

    "They've been really good about getting us out to see and do as much as we can," Rappold said, referring to himself and another ATF intern from Roanoke College. "One of our bosses took us to ATF headquarters and out to a firearms technology branch in West Virginia," Rappold said.

    In addition to their internships, participants in the Washington Semester Program take classes, volunteer and explore the nation's capital. "It's been fun," Rappold said. "I grew up in Northern Virginia ...but I've had a lot of fun exploring D.C."

    Rappold said his dream job is working on counter-terrorism for the FBI. "I definitely want to go overseas," he said. "I don't know where counter-terrorism will be 30 years from now."

    Rappold said he thinks he'll be there, wherever it is.

    And as for his semester in Washington, "It worked out perfectly," he said. "This was my way of getting hands-on experience."

    - Traci Crockett '01