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Sunday, June 23, 2024
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#AwayFromTheNest: Mimi Yu serves the community with the MPD

SPA senior works to offer support and resources to victims

AU students are on the go year-round, and that only intensifies as the temperature gets warmer and the spring semester ends. From political conventions in California to volunteer trips in South America and beyond, summer takes students away from AU and into the world around them. This summer, the Eagle is launching a summer series chronicling their adventures. Join us as we publish a new story weekly on how students are spending their summer #AwayFromTheNest before they return to campus in the fall.

Rising senior Mimi Yu dreams of working in law enforcement and is on the fast track to making that a reality. As a dual major in Justice and Law and Arabic Studies, Yu fits well as an intern this summer with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Victim Services Branch, which works with victims of violent crimes. Although it’s less flashy than catching criminals, she makes a major impact in the lives of the victims by offering support and guiding them to resources available after traumatic experiences. The Eagle had the opportunity to chat with Yu about her experience working with the MPD as part of the #AwayFromTheNest summer series.

Eagle: Can you describe an average day as the Victim Services Branch intern at the Metropolitan Police Department?

MY: An average day changes from day to day. I am an intern at the Victim Services branch, so we talk to victims and the families of victims of sexual assault, shootings, stabbings and domestic violence. We reach out to them to offer support and inform them of the services and resources that are available to them, as well as give them referrals for things like counseling .

For example, the Crime Victim Compensation Program through the D.C. courts allow for victims to be reimbursed for things like their medical bills or car rentals. So in a typical day, my supervisor will send me some cases, usually an assault with a deadly weapon case, but it can be anything. I’ll then call the victim, I ask how they are doing and inform them of the services we can offer. I update the Victim Specialists Unit Database to describe the services we provided the victim and inform them of their rights. They have rights to things like knowing the release date of the criminal in the case if they were incarcerated. I also send the survivor a sexual assault investigative outreach letter one week after the police report is filed and a second 60 days after, so the survivor can reach out with updates. I prepare these once every two weeks through a template where I add the case number, the detective’s information, as well as my details. It’s great, and this is the first internship I’ve done that I feel like I’m making a tangible difference. These letters have made such a huge difference to the victims and have improved their ability to recover and understand what’s available for them.

Eagle: How did you find this internship and why did you choose it?

MY: I had a friend who, actually I had two friends, that interned with the MPD. One worked in the Sexual Assault Unit and the other in Financial Crimes. It was exciting to hear what they did, like visiting the helicopter unit called the the Air Support Unit. I want to work in law enforcement, just because of my majors in criminal justice and Arabic. D.C. has so much going on, just because it’s the nation’s capital. So it was a good fit.

Eagle: What about the Victim Services branch specifically interested you?

MY: When we applied we got to put down our top five placement choices. I really liked this branch, because I knew I really wanted to work with victims and help them get the services they need. Law enforcement tends to focus on catching the perpetrator and not so much on helping the victims. I wanted to make a difference in the lives of the victims, to get housing and reimbursement for medical expenses and counseling.

Eagle: You deal with some really touchy topics. How do you handle it?

MY: It’s definitely hard at first, just reading the police reports. With time I was able to compartmentalize it. I go to the gym a lot and get out my anger. It makes me feel good when me or my co-workers are getting the victims counseling and helping them find services and resources. It won’t make the stories any better, but knowing I’m making a difference really helps.

Eagle: You’re studying justice and law and Arabic studies. What excited you about that combination?

MY: I didn’t start out with the Arabic major, and I actually started out with Spanish. I saw my SIS friends taking Arabic with their Middle Eastern focus and they really enjoyed learning a new alphabet and something so foreign. I grew up speaking Mandarin, but the Arabic just clicked with me. I came in with AP credits, so it seemed like a waste not to study a foreign language. I originally took on Arabic as a minor. I studied abroad in Jordan in the fall, and while I was there they made Arabic a major, so I was like ‘well I might as well do the major’. It was useful in my Comparative Systems of Law and Justice course, which was basically comparing something legal between two countries. When I was in Jordan I got really interested in laws around honor killings and rape. A lot of the laws come from European origins but still exist in the Middle East. The course allowed me to compare Jordan and Lebanon and their rape laws and laws surrounding honor killings. As they became more progressive they abolished the laws or made them more fair.

Eagle: Are you able to use your language skills in your current internship? How will it help you in your future?

MY: One of my fellow interns is from Saudi Arabia, and I’m able to speak with him. We do have fliers in Mandarin and Arabic, and it’s cool to see that available. They have the Asian Liaison Unit in Chinatown and the officers speak Asian languages to better serve this community. But in my day to day it’s not common. Well, when I graduate I want to work for the FBI or intelligence, and I think definitely with what’s going on in the world right now both Arabic and Mandarin are in demand in law enforcement either with translation or going to countries and speaking with people.

Mimi Yu is a rising senior in the College of Arts and Sciences studying Justice & Law and Arabic Studies.

As the semester comes to an end and one of the founding members leaves American University, Section 202 has decided to take a trip down memory lane. For our fans, old and new, who are wondering how Section 202 came to be, this episode is a must. Listen along as hosts Connor Sturniolo and Liah Argiropoulos reminisce about the beginning of Section 202 and how it got to where it is now.

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