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Internship Report: Sarah Mauter (MA '15)

Putting Conflict Resolution Skills to Practice in Criminal Justice

 
Sarah Mauter (MA '15)

After a meeting with Dr. Karen Feste to discuss internships with the military or in the security field, Sarah Mauter (MA '15) was encouraged to look into an internship with a local police department. Mauter did not even know that there were internships available through the local Police Department. Then she visited the Lakewood Marshal Division, which is responsible for processing warrants, regulating and managing security check points for the Public Safety Building and transporting prisoners. Within moments of inquiring about an internship, Mauter had an impromptu interview with Chief Mark Dietel. According to Sarah, “the Chief was so impressed and excited when he heard my Masters was in Conflict Resolution, that he immediately offered me an internship in the Marshal Division!”

For the first few months, Mauter was in charge of filing paperwork, contacting individuals with outstanding warrants, and communicating with various departments. She was the first person people interacted with when they arrived at the Marshal Division. Mauter explained, “I have had to deal with a lot of angry and upset people, mostly individuals who have outstanding warrants and are frustrated by our legal system.” Part of her job includes listening and understanding individual’s problems.

“It was really difficult in the beginning. I was the first person anyone with an outstanding warrant met at the Marshal Division. Most of the time, these people were furious and they would take their aggression out on me. I can’t tell you how many times I have been yelled at or called a foul name.” When faced with such a situation, Mauter explained that her conflict resolution courses, especially the Negotiation class, and workshops and trainings in her coursework have prepared her to deal with these interpersonal conflicts. She explains, “People want to be heard. When they arrive in the Marshal Division, they are confused, scared and frustrated. They want their questions answered, grievances addressed, and they want a chance to explain themselves.” Mauter listens, acknowledges and provides as much support to these individuals as she can.

Recently, Mauter began participating in ride-alongs where prisoners are transported from prison to the Jefferson County Jail, so they can appear via video on their warrants through Lakewood. Additionally, she goes with police officers for street cases. She explained that “when someone calls dispatch and the police have to respond, I go with them. These cases often include domestic disputes, but really anything could have happened.” Once on the scene, officers and Mauter only have a limited window of time to gather information. Mauter explains, “It’s like I have to conduct a conflict analysis in minutes. I have to assess the situation and move quickly. There is no time to waste. I have to identify the main parties, their needs, values, interests and positions in minutes.”

With a deep desire to work with the military by utilizing Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from the University of Denver, Mauter hoped to find an internship that would equip her with valuable experiences and useful skills for that professional context. Conflict resolution students have to be open-minded and focused when looking for internships pertaining to their specific areas of interest. As she explained, “conflict resolution is everywhere. Students have to be proactive and they have to seek out the opportunities that exist. But there are many opportunities out there!”

When asked how her internship relates to conflict resolution, Mauter said, “My entire job is conflict resolution. On a day to day basis, I resolve interpersonal conflicts. I am responsible for making sure people who come to the Marshal Division feel heard and have their concerns and grievances addressed. Every theory I have learned and every workshop I have taken helps me de-escalate conflicts. I let people vent. If they have to yell at me, so be it. ” For Sarah Mauter, her experiences in the Marshall Division have reassured that the military is where she hopes to build her career in conflict resolution.

Sarah Mauter can be contacted at sarah.mauter02@gmail.com.

--Tayma Bislim, MA '14