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What course should we take?

Security curricula exist on many campuses today, and an increasing number of criminal justice programs include courses in security, loss prevention, or safety. While many people dispute the wisdom of having security courses attached to criminal justice programs, the reality is that the majority of courses are within criminal justice curricula. This is not likely to change anytime soon. I believe that working with an existing program is generally more productive than idly wishing for something that may never be.

The argument can be made that criminal justice programs should include security courses. This position can be based on the following assumptions:

* Society needs protection from criminals, terrorists, and disasters. College security courses help address this need by educating society's future protectors.

* Future job growth in the security services sector is projected to be robust. Two issues need to be considered: where the labor supply will come from and how students can be matched with rewarding career opportunities. Adding security courses to an existing criminal justice curriculum addresses both these concerns.

* Many people entering law enforcement begin their careers in security. Others work in the field while they are in law enforcement. Still others acquire security jobs after a law enforcement career. Obviously, the better acquainted these people are with security concepts and functions, the better they will perform asset protection duties.

* Student career interests are not always centered on policing. Many students want to work in the criminal justice field but don't want to be police officers. Unfortunately, not enough emphasis is placed on alternatives, such as security.

The average student does not know what security is, has no concept of contemporary business needs, and is totally baffled by the legal differences between law enforcement and security. A course or two in asset protection could develop a career orientation that is rewarding to students and their future employers.

* Police agencies are extremely selective in hiring. Applicants for police jobs must pass background investigations, drug screening tests, polygraph tests, psychological tests, physical exams, physical fitness tests, civil service tests, and oral review board exams.

It is not uncommon to find 30 applicants seeking a single opening. Many applicants who would do well in unarmed protective service in a nonconfrontational environment cannot pass the physical exam. In many cases, these people can make good security officers.

In addition, many police applicants are not aggressive enough to be effective law enforcement officers. Most security positions do not require aggressive people; the level of assertiveness required for security officers is more akin to that of fire fighters than police officers.

Unfortunately, because many criminal justice graduates are unaware of the opportunities in the private sector, they pursue jobs that are either unattainable or unsuitable for them. A single introductory course in security could go a long way toward rectifying this mismatch of applicants and careers.

* Many law enforcement positions are related more to asset protection than enforcement. Government agencies, such as the Secret Service and National Security Agency, have extensive security missions. While the job titles and training classes may indicate enforcement, much, if not most, of their work is in asset protection. Orienting criminal justice students toward protective service functions would better serve students and employing agencies.

* Much has been written about the
COPYRIGHT 1991 American Society for Industrial Security
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Special Seminar Issue; security courses in criminal justice programs; Viewpoint
Author:Hertig, Christopher A.
Publication:Security Management
Article Type:column
Date:Sep 1, 1991
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