Alumni Spotlight: Anthony Balko, Criminal Justice

Anthony Balko learned the ins and outs of the Westbrook Police Department during an internship while earning his Criminal Justice degree at SMCC.

Now he’s a full-time officer there, thanks to the connections he made during the internship and his discovery that he had a passion for municipal police work.

Balko knew in high school that he wanted to be in law enforcement, following in the footsteps of his father, who was a cop in a small town outside of Portland. And like his father, he decided to come to SMCC because the program had a solid reputation and it made sense financially.

The Criminal Justice program provided Balko the instruction that helps him every day in his job, ranging from the laws of arrests, searches and seizure to safety and wellness to keep him safe and fit on the job.

But it was the hands-on learning with the internship that opened Balko’s eyes to the daily operations of a police department. He rode on patrol, took part in trainings, assisted detectives with investigations, and helped with administrative work.

Balko had been thinking of going after a job on the state or perhaps federal level after graduation. But through the internship, he came to appreciate giving back to a community on the local level and helping make it a better place.

Upon graduating in 2020, he was hired by the Westbrook Police Department, where he works as a patrol officer. On down the road, he thinks he’d like to become a detective.

“My message to students is if you get an opportunity for an internship, you should jump on it. It’s a great experience. Through my internship, I grew to love the department and love the people who work there. It felt like the right fit.”