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Published: Wednesday, 3/16/2005

Tiffin University to educate Los Angeles law officers

BY KIM BATES
BLADE STAFF WRITER

TIFFIN - Tiffin University is about to have a hand in fighting crime and terrorism in Los Angeles.

The private university in Seneca County has just inked an unusual agreement that will allow its instructors and others they hire nationwide to teach Los Angeles County law enforcement officers about homeland security administration. The courses will be available in an online, one-year master's degree format.

The unusual relationship was devised after Los Angeles sheriff's officials said they looked - but couldn't find - a closer university of their liking with a similar online homeland security offering.

Other programs would have required sheriff's employees to appear in class, said Sgt. Dennis Porter, coordinator of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department University, which operates in a corporate university format for its employees.

"There is a huge market for this sort of thing," Sergeant Porter said yesterday about the strong response he's received to the planned homeland security training. "This has the potential of being really big. If it grows really quick, Tiffin's going to have to come up with more instructors fast."

The relationship will allow for Los Angeles leaders to provide an initial class of about 25 students, largely from the Los Angeles sheriff's, fire, and police departments, to begin the new curriculum starting this fall.

Officials from Los Angeles also will devise some of the course-work and instruct some of the classes.

The students ultimately will receive degrees from Tiffin University and will be required to take some initial courses taught by local instructors online. They also will be required to conduct a research project as part of the program, said Charles Christensen, interim dean of Tiffin University's School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences.

tensen, interim dean of Tiffin University's School of Criminal Justice and Social Sciences.

Mr. Christensen said the initial cost of the program is related to the number of students in the Los Angeles program. He declined to disclose the fee rate.

While the program was developed specifically for the Los Angeles personnel, Mr. Christensen said the program eventually will be offered nationwide.

Homeland security administration is one of two new concentrations in the university's master of science in criminal justice degree program, with the other in crime analysis.

The new concentration in homeland security administration also expands on curriculum offered through bachelor's degree programs, he said.

Currently, Mr. Christensen said there are at least 100 students enrolled in the university's existing online master's programs in the science and criminal justice areas. But he added that the bulk of those students are from around Ohio, and not from as far away as California.

Mr. Christensen said the new curriculum will be valuable in providing higher education opportunities to members of law enforcement. He pointed to myriad potential terrorist targets in Los Angeles County, including docks, airports, a large urban population, and the film industry.

For Sergeant Porter, the new program also serves as another avenue for Los Angeles sheriff's employees to further their education, something that's pushed by Sheriff Lee Baca. Since the department's university was formed in 1992, the sergeant said 400 of the some 14,000 employees have received bachelor's or master's degrees.

The sheriff's university is a consortium of colleges and universities, with its leaders helping to provide degree opportunities for students. The department does not pay tuition for its employees, the sergeant said.

"The benefits are multifaceted. One, we have a smarter work force, a more intelligent work force when it comes to homeland security issues. So they have a lot to contribute," Sergeant Porter said of the upcoming class. "And I believe any degree program increases a person's thinking skills."

Contact Kim Bates at:

kimbates@theblade.com

or 419-724-6074.



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