The $250,000 Internship

How data analysis and social media helped Brittany Heysler win big for Ontario County's STOP-DWI program.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

When you think of a career in law enforcement, you probably imagine fast-paced nights filled with flashing lights and sirens. For Brittany Heysler, though, her internship with Ontario County Probation’s STOP-DWI program was marked by a stealthier approach to justice, thanks to technological advances in her field.

During her senior year, the criminology and criminal justice major was required to complete a full-semester internship.

“I actively participated—from start to finish—in Operation Personal Responsibility, a program designed to hold DWI offenders accountable by collecting their delinquent unpaid fines,” explains Brittany.

Her specific role in the program was to build a database for the purpose of identifying and contacting those individuals with outstanding fines. The fines from DWI charges make up the STOP-DWI budget each year, so it’s important to track down individuals who still owe money in order to keep the program alive.

Brittany took advantage of the advanced research and computer skills she learned at Keuka College, along with every tool available, including social media, to track down each offender's contact information. Brittany’s research revealed that nearly a quarter-million dollars was owed to Ontario County by 156 individuals convicted of DWI charges dating back to 1983.

"Up until recently, the county didn’t have the greatest technology, so things were falling through the cracks,” says Brittany. She attributes the success of the program to the resources she had at hand during her research.

“I don’t think the monetary value that we would have gotten back for the county would have been nearly as high if we had started this initiative 10 years ago, I’d be going door to door looking for people,” she says.

"Brittany became widely known throughout the county for the work she was doing at the STOP-DWI program," says Suzanne Cirencione '96, STOP-DWI administrator. "She attended leadership meetings for Ontario County’s top leaders and presented information competently and professionally."

Brittany's work made such an impact that it was featured in the newspaper and on regional TV news.

“My Field Period® experiences and internship allowed me a chance to learn first-hand how classroom academic knowledge translates to the real world,” says Brittany. “The experiences provided me an opportunity to apply knowledge, theories and research to actual work settings, thoroughly enhancing my educational experience.”