BUCKHANNON – A childhood game of “playing cops” has turned into a career opportunity for two identical twins from Delaware.
West Virginia Wesleyan College students Terren and Jerren Carter said they didn’t realize until middle school that working in the criminal justice system could be an option for their future careers.
But now, the Carter brothers are taking important steps on the path to begin their careers in criminal justice by interning with the Buckhannon Police Department.
The BPD accepts two interns per semester, and this semester, the junior criminal justice majors will complete internships there.
Interns are required to complete 120 hours at the police department for a three-credit internship. Police chief Matt Gregory oversees the interns.
“Mostly it’s observation,” Gregory explained. “They can’t do anything hands-on like make arrests [or] perform any type of law enforcement. I may have them assist with taking pictures or taking statements from witnesses at a traffic accident.”
Interns are not assigned to one specific officer to observe the whole time they are there, unlike probationary officers fresh out of the West Virginia State Police Academy who are paired with mentors.
“We try to diversify it so they can see different approaches because different officers have different ways of doing things,” Gregory said. “It’s good for an intern to see a variety.”
“These experiences allow them to see the application side of what they learn in the classroom,” he added.
The police department tries to focus on giving the interns opportunities to experience aspects of the field that interest them the most.
“When an intern is assigned to the police department, we always get a copy of the learning objectives and try to tailor their exposure to the practical side of law enforcement to those objectives,” Gregory said.
The Carters talked about what they’ve had the opportunity to experience since they have been interns – from routine traffic stops to domestic cases.
“You see something new every day,” Jerren Carter said. “It’s really a joy to be with a group of officers who are highly trained, and they just teach you about everything.”
The twins became interested in criminal justice when they were kids. They would run around their house playing cops and trying to arrest one another.
Jerren Carter said he became interested in pursuing criminal justice when he realized he could have a career in the field.
“I told [my brother] about it one day, and we took some classes together and he said, ‘I could find an interest in this,’ and we watched a lot of ‘Live PD,’” Jerren Carter said. “Live PD” airs on A&E Network and shows live police patrols on television.
Terren and Jerren Carter also have an uncle in law enforcement who has been a role model for them. According to Terren, their uncle became the first African American police officer to be a K-9 handler for the Wilmington Police Department in 1998. In 2003, their uncle took over the K-9 unit as supervisor and was presented the “Resolution” award by the City of Wilmington, Delaware.
“My uncle is a Master Corporal with the Wilmington Police Department in Delaware,” Terren Carter said. “I would definitely say he’s been my role model for my desire to enter a law enforcement career.”
The Carter twins have many things in common and very few differences, but according to Jerren Carter, he is a stay-to-himself kind of person, while his brother is more expressive.
“We really do everything together, honestly,” Terren Carter agreed. “I do like business things more than him. He’s not really a fan of accounting.”
Both praised the internship with the Buckhannon Police Department for the experiences it has given them.
“I’m grateful for the internship,” Jerren Carter said. “Chief Gregory and his staff do a tremendous job in Buckhannon.”
“They’re all really nice people, and my perspective has changed; it’s opened my eyes to the reality of the job,” Terren Carter said.
“The job isn’t for everyone – it really takes someone with drive and a willingness to work in a dangerous setting,” he added.
Terren also said he’s realized that the police understand that people make mistakes – but they still have a job to do to protect the public.
Terren and Jerren both hope to go back to Delaware to be state troopers and eventually work with a K-9 unit after they graduate from West Virginia Wesleyan in May 2021.
The twins have been interested in working with K-9s for a while and appreciate the intelligence and skills that K-9s bring to police departments.
“I just like the idea of a dog that’ll have my back just as much as a human partner will,” Terren Carter said.