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USM-Hagerstown to offer criminal justice courses

August 04, 2008|By ERIN JULIUS

HAGERSTOWN -- A new program beginning this fall at the University System of Maryland in Hagerstown will offer courses in criminal justice.

"We want to work with the community out there, to give them what they need, what they want," said Dr. Bill Sondervan, professor and director of Criminal Justice, Investigative Forensics, and Legal Studies, University of Maryland University College.

The program is open to anyone, and is a fully accredited college program, he said.

Those who already work in law enforcement or corrections might be given credit for their work experience, Sondervan said.

The program will also be accepting credits from Hagerstown Community College, he said.

Students in the program can pursue a full, four-year degree in Hagerstown, he said.

Criminal justice students have been able to earn their two-year degrees at HCC, but have had to leave the area to pursue further education, Hagerstown Police Chief Arthur Smith said Friday.

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"That certainly was something that needed to be remedied," he said.

Smith's department offers tuition reimbursement, and with the new criminal justice program downtown, his officers won't have to drive as far to pursue their education, he said.

Some of the classes will be in the classroom, and others will be offered online as part of a "hybrid" program.

This fall, the two courses offered will be about law enforcement administration and correctional administration. School officials are hoping to fill both, Sondervan said.

"There is clearly a need out there. Hopefully we'll become partners with the community," he said.

University officials have met with local prison wardens and police about the program, said David Warner, executive director of the University System of Maryland in Hagerstown.

"All spoke with excitement about the program," he said.

Local people with experience in law enforcement and corrections will be brought in to teach some of the courses, Sondervan said.

Smith has asked that the program include forensic computer courses, he said.

"Like everything else, computers are a bigger part of everything, including crime," he said.

Police officers need a background in forensic computer science to help in retrieving evidence, Smith said.

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