Orlando, FL – Today, Valencia College trustees approved a resolution that will allow for a major expansion of the criminal justice, safety and security, and fire service programs, with the creation of a new School of Public Safety.
Valencia’s Criminal Justice Institute campus will be renamed the School of Public Safety, and will combine the college’s current education and training programs for law-enforcement officers, corrections officers and firefighters, with programs planned for students interested in careers in homeland security, emergency management and private security.
Future plans call for an outdoor public safety lab where students will get the latest in hands-on training, including fire fighting and law enforcement tactics, search and rescue, and enhanced K-9 training through a partnership with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Proposed facilities include everything from a burn building to a new 400-seat auditorium for seminars and conferences.
“With more than 60 million tourists visiting Orlando each year, Central Florida’s public safety community faces challenges typically found in the nation’s largest cities. At Valencia, we believe that a world-class city needs to have world-class public safety. With that as our goal, the new School of Public Safety will train the next generation of police, firefighters, homeland security and private security workers in the latest techniques and equip them for not just traditional criminal activity, but how to respond to 21st-century threats,” said Jeff Goltz, executive dean of the new School of Public Safety.
The college already houses a fire command simulator, which was developed for Orange County Fire Rescue by the University of Central Florida’s Institute for Simulation and Training. In early 2015, in partnership with Orange County Sheriff’s Office, a tactical simulator will be added that will train law-enforcement officers for a variety of scenarios, including active shooters and many non-lethal force situations.
The School of Public Safety will also offer a wide array of advanced training for all levels of public safety professionals. For example, the school will offer interdisciplinary training with law enforcement and fire personnel on the rapid response and removal of victims from an active shooter and mass casualty situation, useful not just for law enforcement but for all emergency responders.
The school currently offers nearly 80 advanced, specialized courses a year for law-enforcement and corrections officers, plus 40 advanced classes for firefighters. Future plans call for continuing education courses in K-9 training, criminal justice and fire tactics, intelligence-led policing, and health and wellness for public safety professionals.
The new School of Public Safety will also reach across disciplines to educate and train students. For example, in a new mock courtroom, police recruits, sworn officers and criminal justice students will learn courtroom demeanor and will practice testifying – with the help of Valencia’s paralegal students and theater students, who may be called upon to serve as lawyers and witnesses.
By bringing existing programs for firefighters, law enforcement and corrections, as well as security officers and homeland security under one umbrella, the School of Public Safety will offer students expanded courses and programs, more opportunities for career advancement, and dedicated career program advising and student services staff.
For students who are interested in earning a basic, entry-level certificate to those interested in pursuing an associate degree and a pathway to a bachelor’s degree, advisors at the School of Public Safety can explain the different options available. And because law enforcement, corrections and fire departments, as well as other public safety employers, are searching for applicants and officers with college educations, Valencia’s new School of Public Safety will offer a variety of degree programs – many of which can lead to a bachelor’s or master’s degree at UCF.
The new School of Public Safety will house the following:
- The Criminal Justice Institute, which currently provides an Associate in Science degree in Criminal Justice Technology; basic training and academies for law-enforcement officers, corrections officers, administrators and 911 dispatchers; and leadership programs that offer master’s degree-level credits – through a partnership with UCF – to currently employed public safety officials.
- The Fire Rescue Institute, which currently provides basic firefighter minimum standards training, as well as technical and career certificates for officers moving up through the ranks. The institute offers an online associate degree in Fire Science Technology, as well as specialized training for current firefighters, including simulated fire command training.
- The new Safety and Security Institute, when complete, will provide professional development and leadership training for private security officers and managers, as well as homeland security specialists.
The college will hold a public unveiling for the School of Public Safety on April 2, 2015.
The School of Public Safety will occupy the 77,000-square-foot training facility that was formerly home to the Criminal Justice Institute and Valencia’s human resources staff. It is located at 8600 Valencia College Lane in Orlando. In addition to the main campus, the college provides access to specialized training at off-campus facilities including a fire-rescue training site at Oak Ridge Road and Orange County Sheriff’s Office firearms range and driving range.
Click here for a conceptual rendering of the expanded School of Public Safety.