New justice course opened for COD students

Keana M. Sempek, Staff Reporter

On the upcoming 2020 Fall semester, a new justice course, Homeland Security and Terrorism, is being offered to College of the Desert students and will be held at the Palm Springs COD campus.

The exact dates and times are unknown right now but will be posted on the course catalog. Mike Alvarez, Captain with the California Highway Patrol, and currently, the Commander of the San Gorgonio Pass California Highway Patrol office in Beaumont, Calif. will be the instructor of the course.

Alvarez has been a member of the California Highway Patrol for 19 years and holds a bachelor’s degree of Science in Physiological Sciences from UCLA as well as a Master of Arts in Homeland Security and Defense Studies from the Naval Postgraduate School.

This course is beneficial for students working towards a police science degree as well as students interested in any aspect of the criminal justice profession, students will learn important and relevant information regarding a constantly morphing societal concerns. At the end of the course, students are presented with a certificate for Reserve Police Officer training.

“As terrorism continues to evolve, the response to terrorism also evolve,” Alvarez said, “Studying this phenomenon in an academic setting through research and analysis allows any student, regardless of their academic discipline, to develop an understanding of terrorist intervention strategies and community resilience.”

Some of the other benefits Alvarez mentions is that the course highlights the fact that we all have a role in preventing terrorism through community engagement and awareness, not just law enforcement. Students will be inspired and empowered to take action in keeping communities safe.

The main study of the course is the fundamental components and historical evolution of terrorism. The differences of international and domestic terrorism are examined with a focus on the modern-day terrorist mindsets well as an analysis of national, ethnic, ideological, and religious movements involved in the rapidly changing social construct if terrorism. An in-depth evaluation of law enforcement’s expanding role is provided as well as the identification of governmental and non-governmental organizations involved in the homeland security apparatus.

The student learning outcomes include explaining the challenges with defining the social construct of terrorism, identify components of international and domestic terrorism, identify and discuss contemporary law enforcement intelligence gathering the role of public-private partnerships in homeland security, and describe law enforcement’s expanding role in homeland security.

Some of Alvarez’s goals for his class and students include introducing the continuously evolving concepts of terrorism and the homeland security discipline to students inrolled in COD’s Administration of Justice Program as well as building student’s ability to comprehend and respond to the emerging and unpredictable dynamics of terrorism as future criminal justice professionals.

“It is my hope that introducing the study of terrorism and homeland security will permit students interested in the criminal justice system to understand the amorphous concept of terrorism, how it impacts the world we live in and our role in combatting terrorism.” Alvarez said regarding this goal. His secondary goal is to mentor a new generation of scholars and criminal justice practitioners, to develop more skilled graduates better equipped to enter the continuously changing criminal justice system profession.

To be able to take this course, Intro to Criminal Justice is required to be taken previously or simultaneously. The new course will be under AJ-025.

For more information on this course and others visit the COD website at