Wednesday, 05 October 2016 11:52

MHC’s second year of criminal justice growing

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Scenario room which is located in an old trailer outside the college. Scenario room which is located in an old trailer outside the college. Ryan Dahlman

Increased success always brings new challenges and for Jim Groom, co-ordinator for the criminal justice program at the Medicine Hat College, one of them is finding enough room for all the students.

“Things are going quite smooth. The numbers are larger than ever,” says Groom. “There are a lot of challenges shuffling rooms and availability. (There was) no place to sit when the students showed up for orientation. They seemed to be quite enthusiastic ... It’s year two and we forge ahead.
“We started about three years ago to try and figure what our courses needed, and then what we needed to amend, and last year was the evolutionary stage.”
The criminal justice program had previously been called Police and Security, but after working with government officials they changed the focus last year.
With the criminal justice diploma, the college advertises it “can lead to employment in law enforcement, policing, private security, border enforcement, intelligence, criminal profiling, legal services, private investigations, and community peace officers.”
Groom says there are students from all over Alberta and British Columbia, but the main applicants are from southeast Alberta. 
“We are turning people away,” he adds.
With a full slate of students and with a limited number of instructors, they have also run into another problem.
One of the features of the course is real-life scenarios for the students.
Everything is controlled but they do need extras/performers to help act out scenarios such as a crime scene. A request was put out through the media to try and get some volunteer help. They initially went to local acting theatres in Medicine Hat to find some volunteers
“In the winter, there are three or four scenarios we are rolling out,” explains Groom.
Second-year student Devon McCaw is enjoying the program and has learned a lot already. He says having strangers involved will help with process.
“There’s a good group of instructors here,” says Groom of his staff which consists of of Michelle Smith who has vast RCMP experience; Ernst Fischhofer who is a part-time instructor and an investigator for the Medicine Hat Police Service and Lily Ostojic.
Groom adds they have had a lot of guest speakers and make visits to various points in the city. As well, having 3-D printing experts to help with the evidence and equipment they use is a benefit to the students.
At the end of the year they asked the students about what they thought.
“We asked about specific structural things and it’s hard to please everyone. ‘Do you want more of this, more of that?’” explains Groom. “We interview those folks and we usually get a fairly high review.”
McCaw has been more than satisfied. His plans are to get on the Edmonton police service.
“The smaller classrooms and more contact with the instructors,” explains McCaw of the college’s advantages.

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Ryan Dahlman

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