Just a little over two years ago, Frankford’s police department didn’t exist. The Town had shuttered its law enforcement agency after the resignation of Police Chief Mark Hudson in 2017.
Now, the department not only has a new chief, but also three part-time officers, and for a few more weeks, it has an intern.
University of Delaware junior Anthony Reilly has been working with the Frankford department during his winter break, and Reilly and Police Chief Laurence Corrigan said the arrangement has been mutually beneficial. Last week, Reilly was about halfway through the 140 hours he is required to complete for his 400-level class; he has until the end of spring semester to complete the hours.
Reilly, a resident of Selbyville, is pursuing a degree in criminal justice from the university. Corrigan said that, although he had hoped to give Reilly some real-world experience through ride-alongs and other on-the-job types of activities, “We had to go to Plan B because of COVID,” and much of Reilly’s work has involved researching and writing papers on topics Corrigan chooses, all having to do with various aspects of law enforcement.
The topics have included such things as the rights to gather and protest as guaranteed in the First Amendment, the meanings of terms such as “negligently” and “knowingly” in law enforcement, mandatory COVID testing, recruiting in law enforcement and familiarizing himself with the Delaware Criminal Code.
“I just simply want his perceptions on the issue at hand,” Corrigan said, “not that there’s a right or wrong answer.”
Each paper, the police chief said, is about two to four pages long.
“I’m not asking for a master’s thesis or anything like that,” Corrigan said.
Corrigan created a journal for Reilly to include all of the papers he writes during his time with the department. The chief has also interacted via email with Reilly’s professor, Daniel O’Connell.
“He was able to spend some time with us, generally half-days,” Corrigan said of Reilly, but when the town hall had to shut down recently because of a COVID outbreak, the two kept in touch remotely.
A graduate of Worcester Preparatory School in Berlin, Md., Reilly said he is considering post-university options including law school or a master’s degree in business or a related field. About criminal justice, he said, “It’s just a subject that I’ve always been interested in. I like to study it, and I thought it would be a good fit for me.”
Asked what about the field particularly interests him, Reilly said, “I think many times we’re dealing with a straight set of facts and we have to analyze them, and that’s something I feel that I’m fairly good at.”
He said he also likes the diversity of the field.
“There’s many different career paths I could take,” he said. “It’s a very diverse and useful field.” The University of Delaware’s criminal justice program has a good reputation, and he was able to secure a partial scholarship to attend the school.
Of his experience with the Frankford department, Reilly said he has enjoyed seeing how a law enforcement officer’s “typical” day can go, despite much of his internship having to be remote because of COVID.
“It’s been a very good experience,” he said. Particularly interesting, he said, has been getting to see “how the officers deal with citizens when they file a complaint.”
Corrigan, he said, “has been a very good mentor. Very accommodating. He’s pretty strict but also very fair,” Reilly said.
He added that while he doesn’t consider writing to be one of his strengths, he has enjoyed doing the research on the topics that Corrigan has given him. One that stands out, Reilly said, was the one regarding demonstrations and First Amendment rights.
“How to ensure that a demonstration runs smoothly is, I think, very useful,” he said.
Corrigan loaned his copy of the Delaware Criminal Code to Reilly for the assignments that cover topics within it, Reilly said.
“What I tried to impart to him,” Corrigan said, as Reilly has worked on his various papers, is that “I wanted his opinion, but I wanted his opinion backed up by whatever research he did. And he did that.”
“From the standpoint of Frankford P.D., this is a win-win, because we’re helping a local,” Corrigan said. “This is kind of what we’re supposed to be doing.”
He mentioned that he is also working with a local woman who is pursuing her doctorate in emergency management planning.
“It’s a joy to see people getting an education,” he said. “I value my degrees, and I think it’s important for a better community.”
“I tried to impart to [Reilly] that once he graduates, to keep going,” said Corrigan, who also received his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Delaware. He also earned two master’s degrees while working in law enforcement: one in public administration and one in human resources management.
“He graduates in May of next year,” Corrigan said of Reilly. “I told him celebrate for about an hour and then get back to it.
“I see great things for this young man,” he said. “He’s got a great attitude, a great work ethic. He’s kind of the guinea pig” for the department’s involvement with internships, Corrigan added. “It’s been a wonderful experience for the agency.” The town council “has supported me 100 percent,” as has Town Clerk Cheryl Lynch, he said. “I was honored to be asked to do it.”
Corrigan said he hopes to welcome more interns in the future.
As for Reilly, he said he hopes to gain further experience with other agencies during his summer break.