8AThe Daily Tar HeelFriday, August 22, 1986
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Dy JENNIFER FROST
While some UNC students worked
in air-conditioned offices this
summer, sophomores Dawn Willi
ams and Laura DiGiano hit the
The two worked for the Minnea
polis Vice Squad this past summer
on an eight-week internship spon-
sored by the Mo re he ad Foundation.
The foundation placed 58 other
scholars in internships across the
Williams, of Boone and DiGiano,
of Chapel Hill, worked in depart
ments of the Minneapolis Police
Department with duties ranging
from aiding bar and brothel patrols
to serving as decoys for solicitation
The two say that the internship
taught them respect for police
"It's a tough job because people
are always apprehensive and nervous
around police," says DiGiano. "Peo
ple have the attitude that the police
are an intrusion instead of help and
protection. I could never do what
they do, and HI always respect their
Williams adds that police are just
regular people. "They're human
beings who make mistakes, and, like
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in any profession, therell be a bad
apple. Police are held on pedestals
as if they're supposed to be perfect.
There are so many demands on
them, but they are people who really
care and are committed to helping
people. Every day they go out with
no guarantee they 11 come back."
And when they do make it back,
DiGiano says she found that unplea
sant circumstances often await.
"Many times," she says, "all police
officers are surrounded by is
unsolved cases, frustration, high
expectations from society and five
pounds of paperwork."
DiGiano also found that she was
unaccustomed to the police environ
ment. MI feel like I went into a
different part of society," she says.
44 We Ve learned not only how law
enforcement works, but how the ,
bottom 10 percent of the population
lives. . . . Many of them are repeat
offenders with files inches thick."
Most people don't realize that
police treat symptoms and not
diseases of society, Williams says.
"Crime is a way of life for people
in slums. They want what they can't
have but try to get it through crime.
It's easier for them to steal than to
DiGiano says that seeing under
privileged people gave her a more
well-rounded view of society. "(At
UNC), people tend to be sheltered.
WeYe lucky we have an education
and to know we have a future," she
says. "To many, there's no future
besides; emptying garbage cans at
Hardee's. Some don't even realize
there's a world outside their housing
Williams says she discovered that
police ) work was not what most
expect J "Most people who watch TV
don't understand. So many take
crime lightly. It's not a glamorous
DiGiano says police must deal
with frustrating murder cases and the
upset family members who survive.
"But wjhat can be done when a Miller
beer can by the victim's body is the
only lead?" she says. "A lot of police
officers burn out. They get so
immersed in their work that they
become great cops, but one day they '
can't handle constantly giving them
selves, only to have people and
circumstance throw brick walls at
Both Williams and DiGiano urge
people to have more relaxed atti
tudes about police.
"By now, most people have had;
a run-in with : the police and are
nervous whenever they see a police
car on the road. They're not out to
get anyone. If you happen to be
doing something that's illegal or
looks like a hazard, yes, theyll stop
you. But they have more important
things to do than stop you for
signaling improperly." Williams
"They dont get brownie points for 1
turning in the most tickets," DiGiano
says. "The policemens' attitude is.!
that by speeding or whipping around
a corner or running a light you could
hurt yourself, not to mention others.
"Give the police a break," she says.
"These people work long, hard
hours. . . . The next time you see
one, be nice and stop and say hello."
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