'4 + 1' helps police hit the streets; Fitchburg State program is a first.

AuthorOwen, Paula J.

Byline: Paula J. Owen

FITCHBURG -- In the first-of-its-kind program in the state, and possibly the country, Fitchburg State University is combining its criminal justice degree program with police certification training so graduates can immediately hit the streets.

The new "4+1'' criminal justice concentration will launch in the fall for students with an interest in careers in public safety. It will allow them to earn their bachelor's and master's degrees, as well as completing police certification training, within five years. Students pay standard tuition and fees for the university for the program.

The concentration is designed for students who enter college with the goal of becoming police officers, FSU officials said. Full-time students who follow the scheduled course work will complete their bachelor's degrees within four years, followed by a one-year master's program that will also include a full-time academy certification from the Municipal Police Training Committee, they said.

Fitchburg Police Chief Ernest F. Martineau said he is excited the department is part of the collaboration. He said he believes the program will become a model across the country.

"This is a great testing ground that could have a major impact on how we train officers in the state,'' he said. "We won't see the effects right away, but we'll see the effects in three years.''

He said the program will save police departments 22 weeks of salary -- around $18,000 -- for an officer, who otherwise would have to go through police certification training at an academy after being hired, plus $3,000 for the cost of putting the officer through the training.

Officers who go through the program at FSU will still have to go through a field training program on the streets with veteran officers for 60 to 90 days, he said.

Fitchburg's department is a civil service department, Mr. Martineau said, and hires officers from a list provided by the state, so it will not benefit as much as a non-civil service department would.

"We are still bound under civil...

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