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Published 2/3/2004
Owens To Assist America's Homeland Security Efforts

George Coxey As homeland security remains at the forefront of America's safety, the overall focus is shifting towards emergency preparedness. Owens Community College's Chair of Criminal Justice, Fire and Emergency Technologies, George Coxey, has been chosen among community college leaders nationwide to help lead new homeland security and public safety initiatives, examining emergency response training at two-year academic institutions.

The Stony Ridge resident is one of 21 individuals (18 presidents and 3 senior specialists/administrators) named to the American Association of Community Colleges' (AACC) recently created Ad Hoc Task Force on Homeland Security.

"Emergency preparedness plays a critical role in ensuring our nation's freedom and protection," said Christa Adams, Ph.D., President of Owens Community College. "George Coxey's selection to such an important task force directly reflects his unwavering commitment to providing safety forces with the highest level of emergency training."

The AACC was founded in 1920 as the primary advocacy organization for the nation's community colleges. Representing more than 1,100 associate degree-granting institutions, the AACC provides higher education to 10 million students annually.

Among the Ad Hoc Task Force's many goals are engaging in homeland security-related activities impacting how community colleges train and retrain police, fire and emergency services personnel throughout the country. In addition, the consortium of leaders will work closely in furthering community college partnerships with federal agencies, state and local governments and other academic organizations to heighten protection for American citizens.

Individuals chosen for the unprecedented assignment were selected following an extensive nationwide search conducted by the AACC. The selection process included Task Force members demonstrating comprehensive strategic vision or policy-making experience related to local community homeland security. Representatives also must exhibit relevant experience in homeland security or defense-related programs and demonstrate personal knowledge in key homeland security fields.

"I cannot imagine an experience more rewarding than making a difference in our country's ability to train future police, fire and emergency services personnel," Coxey said. "My appointment offers a unique opportunity to work with some of the nation's most highly- regarded experts in emergency response training. Receiving input about their respective community college's homeland security programs will benefit Owens' future Fire and Police Training Center for Professional Development and Homeland Security."

Community colleges represent the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education, currently educating a majority of the nation's "first responders". According to the AACC, over half of the new nurses and nearly 85 percent of law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians are credentialed by community colleges. In addition, two-year institutions are rapidly establishing or expanding programs to prepare professionals in related fields such as environmental safety, cyber security, power grid management and emergency response management.

The new AACC Task Force will convene on February 8 in Washington, D.C. to discuss homeland security efforts already well underway at community colleges around the nation. The group also will draw on the expertise of a newly-created Homeland Security and Public Safety Network, made up of community college faculty and staff specialists nationwide.

Coxey joined the College as Chair of the Criminal Justice, Fire and Emergency Technologies in 2000. He currently is responsible for overseeing all instructional programs, curriculum development and activities within Criminal Justice, Fire and Emergency Technologies.

Having over 30 years of experience in public safety, Coxey has previously served as the Chief of Police for communities in Arizona and Nevada. In addition, he oversaw the development and direction for Northeastern Junior College's Northeastern Regional Police Academy. Coxey served as the Senior Executive Advisor to the Minister and Deputy Minister of Interior (Law Enforcement) in Bosnia, and the Technical Advisor to the Inspector General of Police for the Ghana National Police Service in Ghana.

His professional involvement includes membership with the FBI National Academy Association and the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.

He earned his master's degree in public administration from the University of Northern Colorado and a bachelor's degree in police science and police administration from Northern Arizona University. In addition, Coxey is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and holds an education specialist degree in vocational education administration from the University of Nevada.

Owens Community College has been at the forefront in providing educational training to safety forces for over three decades. On April 29, the College will break ground for a new $10 million Fire and Police Training Center for Professional Development and Homeland Security. Owens' new Center will be the only comprehensive facility of this magnitude in the Midwest. Other regional complexes are located in Virginia, Georgia and California.

Phase I of Owens' initial project will be to install an infrastructure of water lines, gas lines and fiber optic cable. In addition, the Phase will include a smokeless burn building, ponds, utilities, power, lighting, fencing and an observation tower.

Additional Phases could include training facilities such as a fire rescue tower, wet skid and driving pads, and various disaster rescue sites for aircraft, railroad, maritime and land vehicles. Owens' state-of-the-art facility will feature a 27,000 square foot Command and Simulation Center for Regional Anti-Terrorism and Emergency Management. The interior of the Center will consist of a simulation containment chamber, a command center, classrooms, computer and science laboratories and shower/locker facilities.

Each segment of this project will be accompanied by the installation of a fiber optic link video system, which is connected to a computerized system. The innovative technology will allow for real-time observations of training exercises from remote locations.

Owens' longstanding commitment to regional training includes in 2002 signing an agreement with the Ohio Fire Academy to provide college coursework to full- and part-time firefighters throughout the state of Ohio. This collaboration enables fire academy students to earn an Owens associate's degree, while simultaneously receiving instructional training. Owens is the first higher educational institution in the state to offer any type of degree program to Ohio Fire Academy students.

On the Toledo-area Campus, Owens currently offers associate degrees and certificate programs in Fire Science Technology and Criminal Justice Science Technology, as well as Emergency Medical Technician Certification.

Owens Community College is the fastest-growing higher educational institution in Ohio with 27 consecutive semesters of enrollment increases. On the Toledo-area and Findlay-area Campuses, Owens serves more than 40,000 credit and non-credit students making it the number one choice for Northwest Ohio college students. Owens is committed to providing small classes, personal attention and unmatched affordability. Owens Community College offers over 130 program areas in Agriculture, Business, Fine and Performing Arts, Health, Public Service, Skilled Trades, Industrial and Engineering Technologies. Owens students also can earn the first two years of a bachelor's degree with a smooth transfer to any area four- year college or university.


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