Published: May 02, 2018

Senior Matthew Riendeau isn’t just preparing for one graduation ceremony, he’s prepping for three.

“My family is coming down to see me walk in May for my UT graduation, and then will come back in June for my (Law Enforcement Training) academy graduation and then again in September, when I’m officially sworn in as a deputy sheriff,” said Riendeau, who has spent his final semester as a UT student interning-to-hire with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office in its cadet program.

One of the major benefits is getting a head start on his career.

“It’s a really awesome opportunity,” Riendeau said, who was sponsored by the sheriff’s office to attend the Law Enforcement Training Academy, which is housed at Hillsborough Community College’s Ybor City campus. Riendeau is also getting paid a salary for his full-time work, which is a special case because he had finished all of his degree requirements for his major and only had 16 general elective credits left when he landed the internship this spring.

“If you don’t do this process, you’d apply to the sheriff's office and the application process takes six to nine months. It's a very thorough application process, as you have to go through all the background checks, the polygraph, the oral board interviews,” said Riendeau, of Tolland, CT. “By doing this internship I was able to get all that done while still actually attending UT last semester. I was in school and doing both things at the same time.”

Riendeau, a criminology and criminal justice major in the Honors Program, said he was inspired to go into law enforcement by family members who serve.

“To me that is something that was really inspiring and something that really motivated me to want to get in this field of work,” he said. “Most importantly, being in law enforcement gives you the opportunity to give back to the community. That's something I've always wanted to do. I'm the type of person who wants to make a difference in someone's life and have that positive impact. A career in law enforcement in the perfect way to do that.”

This is the inaugural year of the program, which was started with outreach by Sorle Diih, UT assistant professor of criminology and coordinator of law enforcement internships. Diih came to UT in 2015 after retiring seven years prior from the New York Police Department, which has a cadet program that Diih took advantage of as a student at the City University of New York.

“It was a way for recruiting college students but preparing them before they actually graduate, so they could see if law enforcement is a good fit for them,” Diih said.

Diih suggested the program to the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, connected them with the New York Police Department and three years later, Hillsborough County launched its own cadet program.

“It’s a fantastic program. I want to provide students an opportunity similar to what I received,” said Diih, who has also expanded UT’s relationship with the Tampa Police Department, Clearwater Police Department and U.S. Department of Homeland Security. “The field of criminal justice is growing, and UT’s expanding program is reflective of the national interest in criminology.”

“Mathew is unique, because he has great interpersonal skills. He has great communication skills, and he’s extremely diligent, calm and predictable,” Diih said. “He’s someone you can rely on. He will be an asset to any law enforcement agency, because he has the demeanor and disposition to connect with people. He is a leader — there is no question about it.”

Have a story idea? Contact Jamie Pilarczyk, Web Writer 
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