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SUNY Canton adds four-year homeland security program

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CANTON — New SUNY Canton students will have another option when choosing a major this fall.

The campus is offering a four-year homeland security degree in response to rising demand in the job market.

Though schools throughout the country are offering homeland security degrees, the program is the first of its kind in the SUNY system, said Susan E. Buckley, chairwoman of SUNY Canton’s criminal justice department.

“There are other homeland security degrees that are out there, but I can’t give you a number,” she said. “There are no other programs similar to this proposal in the SUNY system.”

The program will combine courses already in SUNY Canton’s criminal investigation and criminal justice programs with a handful of new classes to craft professionals focused on identifying, deterring and preventing threats.

“Police agencies in general throughout the country have developed a more proactive philosophy within their agencies,” Ms. Buckley said. “You need to develop intelligence, do more community-oriented policing and be able to react to that and prevent crime before it actually occurs.”

Ms. Buckley said this represents a sea change from a more reactive philosophy focused on investigation after a crime occurs. Students will learn techniques to protect buildings, bridges, financial information, computer networks and people.

Graduates of the program would be eligible to work in a ballooning sector of private security agencies or federal, state and local criminal justice agencies.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there has been an increased focus on preventing and deterring acts of terrorism, Ms. Buckley said.

“Sept. 11 brought it to the forefront,” she said. “We have had racially, religiously and politically motivated attacks on the national and international level. Sept. 11 brought things to the forefront and that is what drove the change.”

In November 2002, President George W. Bush established the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in what to date is the largest expansion of the federal government in American history. It has grown into the third-largest cabinet department after Defense and Veterans Affairs, with an almost $100 billion 2011 budget appropriation.

Ms. Buckley said the program will take as many students as are interested.

“We’re prepared to take them in,” she said. “It will be interesting to see how quickly the program actually populates.”

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