SANDY — Disasters like the flooding in Boulder, Colo. or the Navy Yard shootings need homeland security experts at the helm. Now people all over the West can train to be those leaders right here at Salt Lake Community College in Sandy.
SLCC just started offering a Homeland Security and Emergency Management degree this fall. That means men and women ready to respond and lead during the next disaster, man-made or natural. It's a multi-disciplinary degree to apply to police, fire, medical and business. Homeland Security specialist Joseph Anderson says the two fields go together.
"Both of them are interrelated, both of them are critical to the mission of protecting our country," Anderson said.
Anderson says they took current criminal justice courses like terrorism, and added things like critical thinking in homeland security and emergency management. He says this came together by talking with police, fire, medical and business people. They learned from 9/11 when agencies weren't talking to each other.
"Both of them (homeland security and emergency management) are interrelated, both of them are critical to the mission of protecting our country."
"And then we have situations — the fires in California sort of initiated this — the idea that you have to have an emergency command system," he said. "Because when you get a fire department and a police department coming together, someone has to take charge of all of that. There has to be a structure set up for that."
The next step is adding more online courses; SLCC sees this as an opportunity for new students and for professionals to get into this crucial career area. Anderson says this is the only degree of its kind in the western region and they anticipate it being mostly for professionals coming back to school to study this crucial field.
SLCC believes the popularity of its new homeland security and emergency management degree will only grow. Anderson says it's not just the narrow focus of police and fire authorities. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated that 82,000 jobs in the U.S. involve homeland security.
Homeland security and emergency management positions are expected to increase by more than 62 percent in the next eight years, according to a flyer for the program.