Arlington Heights Police Chief Nick Pecora knew he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement as far back as his days at Rolling Meadows High School, but the closest he could experience it was after graduation. In 1982, at the age of 19, he was hired as a public service officer with the department, which is a a civilian role that handles noncriminal issues.
“It enlightened me all about police work,” Pecora says, “and it pushed me to pursue it as a career.”
In Pecora’s case, he entered the police department two years later, in 1984, and he has spent his entire career in Arlington Heights. Three years ago this month, he was installed as police chief. About that same time, he expanded the department’s longtime internship program for criminal justice majors, to create an internship for high school students.
Seth Rosland of Schaumburg — shown in top photo on the left — who just graduated from Saint Viator High School, was the latest to experience the internship and he enjoyed seeing the behind the scenes work that goes on in the department.
“During my internship on Tuesday evenings I assisted the community relations division officer in presenting the Adult Citizens Police Academy,” Seth says. “I also spent time with the records division, in which they showed me how they handle all police records — they even still have some records from the Tylenol murders.”
His internship introduced him to reviewing officer body camera video, as well as working with the public service officers who staff the front desk.
“I learned how they handle the public who come into the police station to make a report or to seek information,” Seth adds.
Seth already volunteers with the Hoffman Estates Police Cadets — mostly doing crowd and traffic control at community events — and he worked as an ordinance compliance agent with the Schaumburg Police Department.
His interest grew while taking the new forensics course at Saint Viator, and especially during visits from the officers with the Arlington Heights Police who work in its forensics unit. They regularly visit classes throughout Northwest Suburban High School District 214, and encourage students to apply for the internship.
Pecora says the department has offered the one-semester college internship for many years, as the capstone project for a law enforcement major. Expanding the opportunities to high school students helps promote a career in criminal justice even further into the community.
Bottom line, Pecora says, law enforcement needs more qualified applicants, especially in the post-George Floyd era, when interest in the career has declined dramatically. He hopes young people contemplate policing, as he did, as a way not only want to protect the community, but to give back and serve local residents.