In addition to attending classes and working toward her degree, Bentham also used her time on campus to gain valuable real-world experience including, participating in ride-alongs with the Rutland City Police Department, observing operations at Marble Valley Correctional Facility, volunteering at the Vermont State Police training facility, interning with the VT Department of Resources, Enforcement Division, and joining the Army Reserve Military Police to gain more experience.
“Castleton provided the tools needed in any law enforcement position like discipline, independence, integrity, strong work ethic, and confidence,” said Bentham. “The most important thing the Castleton Criminal Justice program taught though is understanding the responsibility you have to the community and the criminal justice system. Instilling good moral judgment to ensure the decisions and choices you make are for the good of the community to sustain trust and confidence in the justice system.”
Upon accepting her diploma, Bentham spent time as a security guard in Boston, before finding employment with the St. Petersburg Police Department in St. Petersburg, Florida. After five years on the force, drawn to the variety of the job and the travel, she applied to the US Secret Service and was hired as a Special Agent. In the last 18 years, she has had the opportunity to serve in the Tampa, New York, Chicago Field Offices, and has traveled worldwide as part of the United States presidential detail.
“The description of what I do now as a supervisor is small compared to what a Special Agent does in their career,” she explained. “An agent’s career starts with 7 months of training in Georgia and then Maryland. Upon graduation, they are assigned to an office, working both investigations and protection. One day you are running down the leads to a bank fraud and the next, posted at a site while the Prime Minister of Canada visits the district.”
For Bentham, the opportunity to travel was one of the most appealing aspects of the job.
“In the second phase of their career, an agent is assigned to full-time protection which could be a variety of specialties but primarily the President, Vice-President, or former President details. Agents travel the world preparing for visits, working with local police agencies and governments, and experiencing different cultures.”
Currently entering the final stages of her professional career in the Secret Service, Bentham has the ability to return to the field or work at Headquarters in Washington, DC. One thing she has always appreciated about her employer is the unique opportunities to pursue specialized interests within the field.
“The Secret Service has the Protective Intelligence division dedicated to evaluating and analyzing threats against protected persons, including the President, and protected facilities. They locate, interview, and evaluate the person and determine if they are a threat,” she said. “The agency also has a career path for cyber investigations, analyzing methodologies evolving in the cyber world that threaten financial infrastructure. During their protection phase, they join the Critical Systems Protection program which identifies, assesses, and mitigates risk posed by information systems to persons and facilities protected by the Secret Service.”
For Bentham, it’s been the experience of a lifetime.
“You get to do and go places you may have never experienced.”