Baker Adds Security Officer Program

    MUSKEGON — As the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon approaches, one West Michigan school is answering the call for better security personnel.

    Baker College of Muskegon is dedicated to changing an often-negative stereotype associated with security officers through its new Safety/Security Officer Training Program. The program is being designed to meet the growing need for well-trained professionals to provide security in business, industry, retail, health care and educational facilities.

    “Many people think of security people as uneducated; through this certification program we are working to change that,” said Trudi Kenny, dean of health and human services for Baker College of Muskegon. “This program will give the students a general knowledge of security and safety procedures so they can be proactive instead of reactive.”

    Kenny added that demand by the business community for security has exploded since Sept. 11. Baker’s program is the first in the area, outside of criminal justice programs, to focus extensively on safety and security.

    The timing of the certification program, which begins Sept. 23 and will see its first graduates in the summer of 2003, goes right along with current legislation heading to the state level regarding the requirement of a training program such as this for all security officers.

    “If we could take a look at what the state requirements area and then modify our program to meet these requirements, we could be way ahead of the game,” said Kenny.

    The program includes site investigative techniques, procedures for threats, theft and all aspects of safety and security. It even includes sanitation to prepare students for work in food service and health environments.

    Kenny said the program will not concentrate on airport security, however, because of the recent decision by the federal government to take over the program.

    In addition, an aspect unique to the program is the required externship component. As part of the curriculum, students are placed in safety/security employment positions before graduating to get real experience before entering the work force.

    “Completing this program can really put students in a much better position for hiring,” said Tom Bartowiak, vice president of corporate security for DuHadway, Kendall and Associates, a Grand Rapids-based security firm. “They can market those basic tools they have and shorten training time. It really gives them a leg up because they have all of those classes and training under their belt.”

    Bartowiak is helping to design the curriculum and has offered to teach a couple of the different courses.

    As part of the certification program students will complete courses in report writing, conflict management, security, investigation, criminal justice, incidence training, as well as business writing.

    “Not only do we want to work with these state requirements but also with local law enforcement and develop a relationship with the Michigan State Police’s Law Enforcement Training Division and see what they are looking for, as well as other individuals interested in safety and security,” added Bartowiak. “If all that can work, this program can really take off and help us as an industry and a profession.”

    The safety/security certification program is a 36-credit program. Kenny added that because this is a full certification program students are eligible for financial aid. Because it contains a combination of general education and specific safety and security classes, students entered in the security program will receive a well-rounded education.

    “We found that these students need communication courses, computer courses and even psychology courses on top of the specialized security courses,” said Kenny.

    With this certification students are given a good base that can be used down the road to complete a full degree program at Baker College, she said.

    “This is really going to give respectability to the profession,” said Kenny. “And it will demonstrate to the general public that security officers are serious about their profession and want to really learn tools to get ahead in the workforce.”           

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