“Bringing in change”: Baltimore Police Department concludes new internship program with Morgan, Coppin students

Three Morgan students work to bridge the gap between the Baltimore community and the police force.


Zakiya Jennings

From left and right: Baltimore Police Commissioner Michael Harrison, intern Fortune Olayinka, Morgan State University President David Wilson, intern Yasmine Bryant, and intern Cheikh McKissic.

Zakiya Jennings, Staff Writer

The Baltimore Police Department and the executive director of the Police executive research forum collaborated with Morgan State University and Coppin State University for its inaugural summer internship program this year.

This program, created by Kim Stevenson, equity program manager, and Leslie Parker Blyther, director of the equity office, is the first of its kind for the police department.

Yasmine Bryant, Fortune Olayinka, and Cheikh S. McKissic are the three students and recent graduates selected from Morgan to be a part of this program.

Each intern was assigned to a unit based on their interest, ranging from forensics and crime scenes to victim services.

The interns completed a capstone project and a presentation based on the best practices to improve a process, product or system within their selected unit.

Bryant, a rising junior majoring in political science, admired the internships hope to improve the relationship between the community and the police.

“They’re using college students and getting the outside perspective of not just police, but also to share the perspective and concerns of the community with executives in the police force so that they can take it and really evaluate what needs to be done based on the communities’ concerns and needs” she said.

Eric Melancon, deputy commissioner of the compliance bureau and acting chief of staff for the Baltimore Police Department, said the internship program with Morgan and Coppin students was an opportunity for the police department to look for improvement from a new perspective.

“This was designed to be a journey of public service and feedback for us to help us improve,” Melancon said. “Their experience has been very important not just for their development, but our development as well. Seeing things with a new perspective. Seeing things with a new eye, a fresh eye, and yes, a younger eye.”

Morgan State University President David Wilson and Coppin State University President Anthony Jenkins attended the interns’ capstone presentations on Aug. 19 to celebrate their students.

Along with capstone projects, each intern proposed a survey that the department could use to better navigate their interactions with the surrounding community.

“This is the type of innovation and insight that we need as a city and to infuse more of our young people. To have them apply their emotional intelligence and their intellectual strength to the problem that our city faces, I can’t think of a better combination than Coppin, Morgan, and the Baltimore Police Department doing great work together” Jenkins said.

This program comes after a combination of violence, corruption, and uprisings in Baltimore over the last seven years. One of the most notable uprisings followed the murder of Freddie Gray in 2015, and most recently Donnell Rochester in 2022.

The Baltimore Police Department hopes more students will apply to learn the inner workings of the department and play a vital role in rebuilding the trust within the community, as well as potentially making this a nationwide program.