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"I'm not going to know, unless I go there myself": HBCU student interns for the Minneapolis Police Department

Minneapolis Police Department brings on intern from HBCU
Minneapolis Police Department brings on intern from HBCU 02:24

Jayla Hall is a rising senior, studying criminal justice at Alabama A&M University.

She qualified to join the Police Executive Research Forum's internship program but her perception of MPD was shaped by what she saw on television, coverage of George Floyd's murder and the unrest that followed.

"I was a little scared but at the same time I was like I'm not going to truly know how it is up there until I go for myself," said Hall.

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When she arrived, she learned quickly how Minneapolis officers are seen by the people they serve and protect. And she found that it was a big difference to what she thought it was going to be.

"They are trying to do their job which is to protect the community and to be able to engage with the community," said Hall, "It's not always about enforcing the laws and arresting people it's so much more than that once you're able to sit down and experience and see the magic behind the curtains."

Jayla shared the good and bad about her experience.

"Some people may be on the department just for their personal gain and not for community gain," said Hall, "I wouldn't want to be around a police officer who doesn't truly care about their community but I also know that's not everyone, that's really just a select few out the bunch."

Praise and criticism is something Chief O'Hara says he and the rank and file need to hear in order to transform policing in Minneapolis.

RELATED: City council votes down rebuilding MPD 3rd Precinct at previous site; some in community declare victory

"This is ground zero in this country in figuring out can we reduce serious crime in a meaningful way at the same time building trust," said O'Hara.

With hundreds of Minnesota High School graduates heading to Historically Black Colleges and Universities - or HBCUs - every year, Jayla hopes they too take advantage of opportunities here at home.

"How can you make it so that these HBCU students are going to return back? It's really making them feel at home, making them feel that this is the community they really don't want to stray too far away from," said Hall. 

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