New partnership boosts educational opportunities in loss prevention

Thursday, May 10, 2012

CHARLES TOWN, W. Va., and MATHEWS, N.C.—A new academic partnership announced today aims to increase educational opportunities for loss prevention professionals, as well as promote loss prevention as a viable career path to students.

The partnership between American Military University and the Loss Prevention Foundation is mutually beneficial. AMU, which offers online degrees in retail management, supply chain management, security management and criminal justice, will get its programs promoted to a large pool of potential students in the hundreds of thousands of loss prevention professionals working in this country, while the foundation gains access to AMU's programs for the its members and larger LP community, Gene Smith, the foundation's president told Security Director News. "Our industry lacks recognizable quality programs, allowing working adults to finish their degrees," Smith said. "We believe that the AMU offerings can make it very easy for working LP professionals to advance their pursuit of higher education."

In addition, as part of the partnership AMU will review the foundation's LPQualified and LPCertified professional accreditation programs—designed for entry-level and management professionals, respectively—and, if deemed worthy, will award academic undergraduate credit to LP professionals who hold those certifications. The foundation already has similar agreements with Eastern Kentucky University and Fairleigh Dickinson University, which each offer academic credits to LP professionals who have completed LPC or LPQ certifications, according to Smith. There are currently 1,200 LP professionals enrolled in the foundation's certification courses, and 800 LP professionals who already hold at least one of the certifications, Smith said.

The foundation will also work with AMU to develop LP-focused curriculum to integrate into AMU's security management program, perhaps creating an LP concentration within the security management degree, "and eventually they can evaluate on their own whether it's worthwhile to have a four-year degree," Smith said. "There is one other university that does have a four-year degree in loss prevention"—that would be Northern Michigan University—"so it's quite possible [AMU] will get to that point. We believe there's clearly a need out there," Smith said.

One thing the LP sector hasn't done well in the past, Smith said, is position retail loss prevention as a viable career path for students. This partnership will help in that endeavor, he said, as AMU is going "to increase the awareness among all their students that retail loss prevention should be considered as a career option, which is huge."

AMU also has a large number of students who are veterans, another demographic Smith said retailers would like to attract to the LP field. The partnership "gives us a communcaiotn pipeline to those veteran students," he said.

Jeff Hawkins, AMU's manager of strategic initiatives for the private security sector, looks at the new partnership in the big picture. "The retail loss prevention and security industry is growing rapidly, and private sector personnel need to ensure they have the skills to keep pace in helping protect our nation’s critical infrastructure and financial stability,” Hawkins said in a prepared statement. “Continuing professional development is an integral part of this process, and we’re pleased to work with LPF to help educate industry professionals so they can advance their career.”

AMU is also pursuing partnerships with other sectors of the private security profession, Hawkins has told SDN in the past.