In a move expected to propel Mercyhurst College into the forefront of public safety training, education and research in the Erie region, college officials today announced the launch of the Mercyhurst College Center for Public Safety (CPS).
The new enterprise, intended to provide one-stop shopping for the education and training of public safety professionals, debuts on the campus of Mercyhurst North East this fall, announced Mercyhurst President Dr. Thomas J. Gamble.
The center will become the primary regional provider of public safety instruction with a targeted student base that includes first responders, police cadets, constables, corrections officers, probation and parole agents, fire fighters, public safety executives, and criminal justice associate degree students, Gamble said.
“After 9/11, it became evident that the training and services given to our nation’s first responders were lacking,” said Dr. Art Amann, director of the new center, which will be headquartered in the Michele and Tom Ridge Health and Safety Building. “These unsung heroes will be the first to respond in our region to any terrorist threat or catastrophic event. We believe it is our obligation to help these individuals so that they might help us and others in our hour of need.”
Under the plan, the college’s existing Public Safety Institute, situated on the Erie campus and operated under the auspices of the Mercyhurst College Civic Institute that Amann also directs, will move to the North East campus. The Public Safety Institute provides training and education for personnel involved in emergency preparedness for terrorism and catastrophic events that potentially threaten national security.
In moving its headquarters to North East, the institute joins several existing public safety programs there, among them the municipal police academy, corrections academy, constable training, and criminal justice associate degree programs.
CPS will also explore ways of reaching out to various constituencies through training at remote locales, distance learning and online classes. Just recently, for example, Mercyhurst earned state approval to establish a fire academy and will provide onsite training at the Erie County Public Safety Fire Grounds off Route 98 near Fairview.
Besides unifying existing programs and providing creative learning opportunities, CPSpaves the way for implementation of new academic programs on the Mercyhurst North East campus, Gamble said. Presently, Mercyhurst offers an associate degree in criminal justice with concentrations in crime analysis and law enforcement. In fall 2007, the program will be expanded to include concentrations in corrections and fire science. Also under consideration are concentrations in emergency management and corporate security, as well as certificate programs in risk management, corporate security, emergency services, communication specialist and criminal justice executive training.
The center is being funded by a combination of grant money, including a $350,000 federal grant secured through the Erie County Public Safety Department; facility usage fees; contracts; tuition and partnerships with government agencies.