By David Chilton
Special to The Sun
Security is on everyone's mind these days, as a quick look at the pages of this paper will show. The world is a less safe place, unfortunately, and as a consequence there's more demand for trained security staff than ever.
Consider the Police Foundations program at Seneca College in Toronto. Co-ordinator Jeff Agro says for the 340 places the college will offer this year and next -- 260 in September and 80 in January -- there were almost 2,000 applications.
The reasons for the oversubscription aren't entirely clear, but Agro says the quality of the program is no small part of it, as is the fact that "security is in the news and on TV. It puts it right in front of (students.)"
There might be a third reason too. This year marks the last graduating glass of the Law and Security Administration Program at Seneca, although in the GTA Law and Security Administration is offered at Sheridan College in Oakville and Durham College in Oshawa.
"Some of the colleges in the province still offer Law and Security Administration,"Agro says. "However, here at Seneca we found that there was a great deal of overlap. For our purposes, we have to meet local needs, and for our local needs we found that the Police Foundations program served that purpose, (along with) the graduate certificate program."
At Seneca there's the 911 and Emergency Services Communications certificate program; the Applied Forensic Investigative Sciences certificate program; and the Advanced Investigations and Enforcement graduate certificate program that's open to all who qualify, but which is a natural extension for graduating Police Foundations students.
| JEFF AGRO
The Police Foundations diploma course at Seneca is full time and takes two years to complete. Tuition is about $1,800. Students need a minimum of high school graduation with Grade 12 English. They are also required to write Seneca admission tests.
Typical courses in the program include the History of Law, the Criminal Code, English, Psychology and Community Policing, Agro says. Unlike other college programs, Police Foundations doesn't require work placement, but it does demand students complete 150 hours of paid employment with one company in a related field or 150 hours of community volunteer work with one organization.
Venues for volunteers
Retail security and hospital security are popular choices with students who work their 150 hours, says Agro, and the Rogers Centre (formerly SkyDome), Canada's Wonderland and Habitat for Humanity are typical venues for volunteers.
The demand for Agro's students shows no sign of letting up. He says Canadian Border Services, the Toronto Transit Police, U of T Police, GO Transit, court security, bylaw enforcement departments, private investigation firms and many others hire Police Foundations grads. The Edmonton police, he points out, have been back to hire three times in the last couple of years.
Entry into the Police Foundations program at Seneca is highly competitive.
Applicants need a high school diploma and Grade 12 English.
Graduates are hired by police forces, the federal government, provincial and local governments, and private corporations.
A number of universities give Seneca graduates advanced standing in Criminology and similar programs.
The class makeup in Police Foundations is generally evenly split between men and women.
And there's even a Mountie in the mix. Peter Quansah, a Montrealer who graduated from Police Foundations this year and was class valedictorian, has passed his tests for admission into the RCMP and is biding his time as a private investigator until he reports to HQ in Regina.
Quansah, who studied business for one semester at a CEGEP in Montreal, has been an actor in Toronto and a personal fitness trainer. He says that even before he enrolled at Seneca he was aware of its excellent reputation. The instructors, he says, don't just teach from a book but from their own experience.
Agro can easily do that. He's a former police officer from Niagara Falls, and says there are other ex-cops on staff, a criminologist and a pair of lawyers.
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