• Keeping the Streets Safer in Worcester

4/6/2012

Valentine’s Day is the day of hearts. Paper hearts, chocolate hearts, and real hearts. For Erin McLaughlin (MPA/MSCJ ’10), it was the day her heart met its true calling in 2008, from the passenger seat of a patrol car. She has kept her eyes on the prize of becoming a police officer ever since.

A senior at Stonehill College at the time, McLaughlin was an intern at the Brockton Police Department and invited on a ride-along. “I hopped in the car, and it took one day riding with that officer to see that this job was completely for me.”

McLaughlin continued her work with local police departments as a graduate student in Suffolk’s MPA/MSCJ program—a dual degree designed for public safety professionals—and combined academic training with research and internship opportunities to bring her closer to her goal.

As a research assistant for Brenda Bond, assistant professor of public service, McLaughlin worked on grant-funded gang research projects in Lowell and Springfield, Mass. Along with Bond, McLaughlin co-authored a book chapter based on the research in Lowell, titled, "The Fundamental Challenges of Defining and Measuring Retaliatory Violence" for Looking Beyond Suppression: Community Responses to Reduce Gang Violence (June 2012, Lexington Publishing).

McLaughlin interned at the Moakley Center for Public Management as a jobs coach and then supervisor for iWorks, a program helping youth find jobs and develop positive work habits. “She never lost her desire to be an action-based public safety officer and followed up every opportunity until the State Police were smart enough to sign her on,” says Sandy Matava, director of the Moakley Center.

When the State Police contacted McLaughlin a year ago to become a new recruit, it was an opportunity she couldn’t pass up. On March 9, 2012, she became one of five women and 208 troopers in the first graduating class of Massachusetts State Troopers since 2006.

After graduating, on her third day of patrolling with a veteran officer, McLaughlin was involved in her first arrest. Almost at the end of their shift, a violent incident occurred nearby at Garabedian Jewelers in Worcester, Mass. She pursued the armed robber for nearly a mile, chased him into the path of her field-training officer, and he was taken into custody. She continues her field training, and says she still keeps her eyes on the prize, which is to become the best trooper she can be.

“Public safety is an issue I care about,” says McLaughlin. “It’s really important that people should feel comfortable walking down the street, and not afraid at night or during any part of the day. My role as a police officer will help me address that issue in a lot of different ways.”

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