Focus, Government, and Higher Education

GRCC offers Homeland Security training course

New class seeks to develop critical thinking skills in emergency situations.

August 22, 2014
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A new course offered this fall at a Grand Rapids college will have students and professionals on high alert as they learn how to assess, identify, protect and react to emergency situations.

Grand Rapids Community College announced this month it will provide a Homeland Security course through its workforce development training program to introduce students and area professionals to emergency preparedness in their various industries.

The High Alert Homeland Security training course will expose attendees to innovative and practical critical thinking skills that will help them to assist in emergency situations. Students and professionals will be able to identify and protect critical infrastructure vulnerability areas, develop practical solutions to real work attack scenarios, and understand the function and purpose of the Department of Homeland Security.

Julie Parks, director of workforce training at GRCC, said the goal of the course is to better prepare for an emergency situation and is not meant as a scare tactic.

“It really is just helping people learn how to make an assessment of the different facilities they may be responsible for and really trying to be proactive,” said Parks. “This training isn’t about scaring people; it really is just trying in a way to be proactive — make people aware so you can plan, and when you plan and get some knowledge, you make better decisions in case there is an emergency.”

Individuals enrolled in the course will participate in building assessments at various onsite locations, such as the Tassell M-TEC building at 622 Godfrey Ave. SW in downtown Grand Rapids. The assessments will teach students what to look for in terms of emergency preparedness for situations ranging from weather and special events to active shooters in the area, according to Parks.

Meeting once a week, the seven-week program is taught by Michael E. Moll, a protective security adviser in Homeland Security’s Grand Rapids office.

“The college has a strong relationship with the Grand Rapids Police Department and with different security agencies around the area, and our chief here at the college introduced me to Michael and we had a conversation about some offerings he might do for the college,” said Parks.

Certified as a “Protection Professional” with the American Society of Industrial Security, Crime Prevention Professional and Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design, Moll has approximately 20 years of experience in law enforcement, risk analysis, security surveys and emergency action plans.

By challenging students to develop logical and innovative solutions to different emergency situations, Moll said the course is meant to augment the skills of those enrolled, which ultimately helps a business’s bottom line.

“The High-Alert Homeland Security Course has been designed to enhance the ability of law enforcement, security and high-value critical infrastructure owners and operators to develop critical thinking skills, as well as look at securing property, people and customers,” said Moll in the release.

GRCC’s course was developed after learning from employers in the security field of a need for this type of training, according to Parks.

“We are in a changing environment here in the United States,” said Parks. “We hear people need to take into account their buildings, the areas where the public gets together, just to ensure that we are doing everything we can to keep our buildings safe from whatever situations that might occur.”

The U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, reported employment for security analysts is projected to grow 37 percent from 2012 to 2022. The demand for information security skills was noted in the  2013 (ISC)2Global Information Security Workforce Study conducted by Frost & Sullivan, a Texas global growth consulting firm, and Booz Allen Hamilton, a strategy and technology consultant company based in Virginia.

Out of 12,000 worldwide respondents, 47 percent reported the top needed position at their organization was a security analyst and 32 percent noted security engineers or planners were in demand. The study also showed more than 35 percent of respondents would hire additional workers, but found it difficult to find qualified personnel.

GRCC’s Homeland Security course is open to the public, but was designed for criminal justice students, law enforcement and security professionals in various fields such as educational facilities, hospitals, malls and other public facilities. College and university students are given a discount, according to Parks.

“Anyone is invited to participate: facility managers in buildings who might be interested, security companies who might want to build credentials in the area, and then students,” said Parks.

“We gave a special rate for students because this additional knowledge, along with what they are learning at Grand Valley or at GRCC in the criminal justice program, this is just an added value for them to have more knowledge and credentials to add to their résumé for what they are doing.”

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