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New criminal justice concentration to launch

Posted 04/07/15

MPTC Director Dan ZivkovichStudents with an interest in careers in public safety will be able to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees, as well as complete police academy training, within five years as part of a new concentration launching in fall 2015 at Fitchburg State University.

The concentration is designed to serve students who enter the university with a clear goal of certification as police officers. Full-time students who follow the scheduled coursework will complete their bachelor’s degrees within four years, followed by a one-year master’s program that will also include a full-time academy certification from the Municipal Police Training Committee.

“Graduates of this program will emerge with the skills and credentials for a career in law enforcement,” Fitchburg State President Robert V. Antonucci said. “They will be attractive candidates for the workforce, ready to be hired by police departments who will not have to pay for the time it takes to complete academy training.”

Students who complete the concentration at the baccalaureate level will be offered admission to the master’s program, where upon completion they will be certified by the Municipal Police Training Committee (MPTC) as a full-time police officer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

“When they graduate, they’re street-ready,” said MPTC Executive Director Dan Zivkovich, who worked closely with Fitchburg State administrators on developing the program. The MPTC runs an 870-hour certification course that is required for all municipal police officers in the state. The university’s criminal justice curriculum was mapped against the MPTC’s own coursework to determine where content can be delivered in campus classrooms.

The skills component of the academy, including firearms, defensive tactics and emergency vehicle operations, will be taught by certified MPTC instructors including members of the university police department.

Graduates of the program will be ready to report for municipal police duty immediately.

“It’s the perfect combination,” Zivkovich said. “You will have an educated officer who’s also a trained officer. You’ll have someone who understands the theory behind the tactics. The smart police departments will be watching these students.”

Fitchburg State Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice Marcel Beausoleil will coordinate the new concentration.

“The Fitchburg State Police Certification Concentration program will give our students the skills and knowledge to be able to reach out to and engage the community in a positive way,” Beausoleil said. “It is our goal to turn out professional, ethical police officers who are ready for community policing. Sir Robert Peel, the founder of modern policing, said that, ‘The police are the public and the public are the police.’ This program is designed to develop future police officers who live up to that statement.”

Fitchburg State Associate Professor of Criminal Justice David P. Weiss was also active in developing the new concentration.

“This unique educational opportunity will give our students a distinct, competitive edge in the policing job market, while at the same time helping law enforcement agencies across the state to manage the expense of up-front training costs in a very tangible way,” Weiss said.

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