Temple University police offering ride-alongs for students

Temple University has a new program that gives students an up-close look at what it’s like to be a police officer. While many Temple University students are taking their usual walk to class, Temple junior Lucas Burke is gearing up and going on patrol.

"Recently, the police has been a very hot button topic, very hot button issue and people are always quick to give their opinions on the job, on what they think policing actually is. I say before you do that, actually sit in a car, actually go on a patrol with them. You can never have too much information," says Burke.

Which information is exactly what Burke, a psychology major, is trying to soak up, in his Temple police ride-along experience.

Wednesday afternoon found Burke picking the brain of Temple Police Deputy Director of Organizational Affairs, Michael Smith.

"They get the classroom perspective in their programs, but we want them to get the real life actual practical perspective," says Smith.

A perspective that some elements of the job surprised Burke, like the patrol zone going beyond Temple’s campus.

"A resident who lives five blocks outside of campus, never went to Temple, she can still call the police and Temple police will respond to anything she calls about. So, having that perspective of like, no this is serious. They do regular police stuff here in North Philadelphia. That was really eye-opening," says Burke.

Temple police are hoping to open the eyes of many other students through the program they started nearly two weeks ago.

They encourage students of all different majors to try it and assure that during the experience, safety is a top priority.

"In the event something did happen, we would have to drop them off at a safe location and then respond to that call. We need them to know it is real life, reality, and what they are going to see, is what our officers engage and hear every day," says Smith.

In hopes that it will not only create a better understanding of policing, but inspiring others like Burke who are interested in the job, to one day put the uniform on permanently.

"The experience that you can get here as a Philadelphia or Temple police officer, compared to where you would get in other areas of the state, is not comparable at all. This is a very busy, high frequency department so, I think that experience will definitely help me in my future," says Burke.

Students of all majors are able to do a ride along by emailing the department. They’ll be asked to sign a waiver and then a date will be set up to go out.