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A Summer With the Highway Patrol

Richard Cruz
Richard Cruz

Criminal justice student Richard Cruz’s internship with the Wyoming Highway Patrol offered a wide range of experiences.

By Micaela Myers

Last summer, Department of Criminal Justice student Richard Cruz spent several days working the security detail for Gov. Matt Mead, part of his six-week internship with the Wyoming Highway Patrol and what he considers great experience for his hoped-for career in the Secret Service.

Local inspiration: A native of Cheyenne, Cruz joined the Wyoming Air National Guard out of high school. The program provided him with in-state tuition, making the University of Wyoming a natural and affordable choice.

“My mom works at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Cheyenne. Growing up over the years, that influenced me to get into law enforcement,” Cruz says of his decision to major in criminal justice.

Cruz finds his classes at UW challenging and packed with information. “The professors are great, and the classes are structured very well,” he says.

On-the-job experience: The Department of Criminal Justice offers internships with various county and state agencies, which can benefit both the agencies and the students. Cruz was the first to intern with the Highway Patrol—a new partnership that both sides hope to continue.

“I went from helping process evidence in their evidence room to getting a tour of the crime lab in Cheyenne and working with the Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation,” Cruz says. His internship included learning about the state’s canine unit and participating in a multi-day canine deployment, as well as witnessing courtroom testimony. He was also able to do numerous ride-alongs with the troopers, witnessing arrests and seizures, often for drug offenses, which sparked an interest in drug interdiction. These experiences showed Cruz the depth and breadth of knowledge required by troopers and other officers.

“My long-term goal is to be a federal agent, so it was helpful seeing how investigations were conducted from start to finish,” Cruz says. He encourages other students to take advantage of the internship opportunities offered at UW.

With graduation expected in May 2017, Cruz’s connections have already helped him set up an initial meeting with the Secret Service, and he feels ready to pursue his career goals, armed with real-world experience and a solid education.

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