BOCES Interns Get a Taste of Life at Saratoga Town Court.
This article by Jennie Grey appeared in the Saratogian.
Photo Credit: Erica Miller
SARATOGA SPRINGS >> Brandon Beaupre, a senior at Hadley-Luzerne High School, drives an hour a day to reach his BOCES criminal justice classes and his Saratoga Town Court internship. He counts it as time well-spent because he’s learned and grown so much.
“I wanted to be a police officer from a young age,” he said. “So the BOCES criminal justice program interested me. But I was a little scared. I had always been the shy kid.”
Judge Timothy Williams, who oversees the internship program at Saratoga Town Court, welcomes the BOCES interns, whether they’re shy or not. He has worked with about a dozen students, half with a legal focus and half with a security focus. He enjoys seeing them build confidence during the five weeks.
“I’m such a big fan of the students,” he said. “And I feel it’s our responsibility as community leaders to show them different avenues and careers. The BOCES criminal justice program is exceptional. After two years, students earn a New York state security guard license. They can go out of high school right into the trade field.”
The BOCES criminal justice internship is a senior-year program coordinated by instructor David Foldi. Students from five different counties may participate. Currently, Williams has legal and security students from Saratoga Springs, Greenwich and Schuylerville, besides Beaupre.
The encouragement and appreciation Beaupre received in his criminal justice classes let him break out of his shell. He attended a student leadership conference in Syracuse; became the class vice president; and began participating in Extemporaneous Speaking, a limited-preparation speech event based on research and original analysis. And he took on the internship.
“All this gave me so much self-confidence,” he said. “I feel accomplished now. I feel good about myself.”
At Saratoga Town Court, Beaupre works with Williams, who details the aspects of the court. Criminal court includes felonies and misdemeanors. Civil court comprises small claims and evictions. Evictions are the worst part of the job, Williams said. Weddings are his favorite.
All kinds of people enter the court via the metal detector staffed by Court Officer Glenn Decker, who trains Beaupre in security equipment and techniques. The security officers stay on the lookout for weapons. Since Schuylerville is a rural community, many residents carry knives for farm work and some have weapons for protection against wild animals, Williams said.
The officers also keep order in the courtroom.
Like the judge, Decker agrees that the BOCES interns are a cut above average students.
“They’re always good,” the court officer said. “BOCES doesn’t send just anyone. These students are very respectful people.”
They’re also ambitious. Legal interns Sarah Zdobnikow from Schuylerville and Danielle Wilson from Saratoga Springs did a six-week study of illegal driving while texting, noting the gender and age of people ticketed over the past two years in Saratoga. Williams had agreed with the students that the general assumption was that women from age 18 to 22 are most commonly arrested for this misdemeanor. The interns found that men from 28 to 45 were most often charged.
Williams, who saw the immense piles of boxes thorough which Zdobnikow and Wilson had to sort, was impressed with their hard work at the court. Beaupre shows the same commitment.
“You know how people say that something changed their lives,” Beaupre said. “This is the truth: The BOCES course has changed mine. I’ve become so much more ambitious and able to communicate with people since I began.”
Williams said, smiling: “After working for 22 years in the city of Albany as a police sergeant, I learned that the two greatest tools for the job are your mind and your mouth.”