Valley student about to intern with Ferguson policePosted: Updated:
PHOENIX - Ferguson, Missouri has been the epicenter of racial tension recently, thanks to a grand jury deciding not to indict Officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown. Now, a young Valley man will soon be in the middle of it all, as he prepares to start an internship with the Ferguson Police Department.
Patrick Melvin Jr. is hoping to follow in his father's footsteps, and he's about to embark on a journey about which he has thought long and hard.
"First I was nervous about my safety and how it was going to be if I was going to go out on patrol and what would happen, but I really just prayed about it and I overcame all my fears," he said.
Melvin is a senior criminal justice major at Harris Stowe State University in the heart of St. Louis, roughly 12 miles from where Michael Brown was shot and killed by Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson. The incident became a teachable moment for his school president, who took them to the scene shortly after it happened.
"We really came together, we prayed in speaking forms about the situation on how in the future we can prevent this problem," said Melvin.
Part of the solution, he says, is to see it firsthand, and understand the inner workings of an agency and community divided. He applied for an internship with Ferguson Police in October and will begin his internship in January.
His father, Patrick Melvin Sr., is the former Maricopa Chief of Police and current Chief for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Police Department. He says his son's decision is bittersweet. "For him to say I want to make a difference is awesome, so I'm proud as a parent, but also knowing what's out there and the potential danger for him, both his mom and I were a little concerned," he said.
Melvin Jr. says he's determined to help a community, especially Ferguson. "The community is hurting but they are really seeking out communication from law enforcement," he said. Eventually, he'd like to use what he has learned and will learn while shadowing Ferguson Police officers, and bring it back to the Valley.