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KNOXVILLE — A University of Tennessee honors student gained experience and insight this spring in the fight against terrorism.

Matthew Mills, a senior in the college of arts and sciences from Sweetwater, Tennessee, spent the spring semester working in the anti-terrorism/law enforcement section of the Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.

Mills said he got an inside view of the government’s efforts to thwart terrorist attacks in Washington, D.C.

“When the FBI sends out terrorism warnings to be on the lookout for certain people taking pictures of bridges or the foundations of the Supreme Court or the White House, we would catalog the warnings in a database,” Mills said.

“If the police called a month later and said they had a report of someone taking a picture of a bridge, we could type ‘bridge’ into the database and it would automatically bring up every warning related to bridges.”

Law enforcement and crowd control were also big items on the agenda, Mills said.

“Cameras on street corners in D.C. can monitor crowds from any angle, and a helicopter with an infrared camera can keep track of crowd movements,” Mills said.

“We can see if there is a group starting to form on a specific street corner or perhaps trying to block the key bridges into the District from Virginia or Maryland.”

Mills said the UT Honors Program was a big help in landing the internship.

“When you come in as a freshman, the honors program prepares you to study abroad or do an internship,” Mills said. “I was interested in law and wanted to go somewhere like Washington D.C. or New York City, but I probably wouldn’t have been able to find this one without the honors program, which helped me find enough funding to do the internship.”

Michelle Blackwell, assistant director of the honors program, said Mills has made the most of his time at UT.

“Matt is an excellent student and a very personable young man who seeks opportunities to be involved in his career field as often as possible,” Blackwell said. “This past year Matt wanted to pursue working for the judicial system and came to me for help. We started applying for internships.

“In the end, through Matt’s efforts, he was offered seven different positions.”
After graduation, Mills plans to attend law school.