A phone call from a Red Deer corrections officer inspired the creation of a new program at Red Deer College.
Byron Reynolds, Red Deer Remand Centre head of programs, spoke about that phone call at the official Justice Studies diploma program launch event Thursday at RDC.
Reynolds called the college a few years ago to ask if a program in the justice studies field would come to the college. He said he was struggling to recruit local people at the remand centre.
This two-year program, which will be offered starting September, will help fix that problem, said Reynolds.
“We get to know (the students) and they get to know us and when an opportunity comes up for employment, now we have a talent pool we can draw from locally,” he said.
Reynolds, an RDC alumnus, had to take courses at Lethbridge College to gain professional certification as a corrections officer.
“I wondered … why Red Deer College didn’t offer something similar knowing they could easily accomodate something like that and that they’d do a great job,” he said.
Reynolds said he’s very excited the phone call has evolved into a program.
“I’m very surprised it went the whole way. There were a couple times I thought it may have died on the table somewhere and the next thing I know I’d get an email or a telephone call saying, ‘We’ve made it to this stage,’” he said.
The program’s courses delve into a range of topics including the Canadian justice system, the complex origins of crime and criminal behaviour, communication and conflict resolution.
Dr. Torben Andersen, School of Arts and Sciences dean, said there are many job opportunities for future graduates – corrections, victims services or as community police officers.
“Many other communities have programs like this and we need one here that’s rooted in the people and issues in our community,” Andersen said.
The college has received more than 30 applications for the program so far – 20 have been accepted. The first year will max out at 40 students, said Andersen.
The program will emphasize knowledge and understanding of Indigenous people and their experiences with the justice system, he added.