MC

Mississippi College

Mississippi College Offers Loss Prevention Certificate

January 10, 2014

Loss prevention is a booming business worldwide.

The statistics are staggering. In the United States alone, more than $36 billion of goods are stolen from retailers each year. Reports estimate there are 27 million shoplifters in the USA or one out of every 11 people. Significant portions of ship cargoes turn up missing in ports around the globe. Credit card fraud is out of control.

Equipping professionals with the latest tools to combat such crimes and give students the skills to begin careers in the field, Mississippi College will offer loss prevention classes in a new certificate program starting in January 2014.

The certificate program is one component of the Christian university’s Administration of Justice program. Classes are available to undergraduates and graduate students. They will get the training needed to work at a growing number of loss prevention positions with major retailers as well as other businesses and law enforcement agencies.

“It’s wide open,” says Mississippi College loss prevention instructor Robert Buescher. “It’s growing exponentially…there are 4,000 to 5,000 jobs nationwide advertised every day.”

Mississippi College will offer 21 hours in its loss prevention program to enable students to receive a certificate in the field over three to four semesters. The courses prepare students to excel on national exams to become loss prevention qualified. At that point, loads of job opportunities will open up for degree holders.

Featuring a heavy dose of on-line classes, MC’s loss prevention certificate program is competing for students nationwide with institutions in other states, such as Texas, Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan and Florida.

Mississippi College is the lone higher education institution offering the certificate program in the Magnolia State. The MC program is linked to the non- profit Loss Prevention Foundation. In recent years, the foundation has supplied funds for Mississippi College students to attend national loss prevention conferences.

Loss prevention skills are critical to companies and agencies fighting crime.

“Will we ever stop it?” Buescher asks. “Educated professionals can put a dent in it.”

The industry goes far beyond retailing. “Banks and insurance companies need educated investigators in fraud and theft. It used to be that you didn’t need a degree to be in loss prevention,” Buescher said. “But now it is in high demand. We need to have outside-the-box thinkers.”

Loss prevention professionals are needed to combat lucrative enterprises whether it is criminals producing knockoff items instead of brand names like Nike clothing or churning out counterfeit $100 bills.

Buescher concedes that loss prevention professionals are unable to solve many of the crime problems on their own. “We can’t do our job without law enforcement.” The FBI, for instance, often takes a lead role in cargo theft.

Bringing experience in security posts with the Air Force, corrections departments and private security jobs, Buescher is teaming with other well-qualified faculty members to teach the classes on the Clinton campus. Others on the faculty include Mississippi College Public Safety Department Director Stephen McCraney. A Mississippi National Guard leader and a statewide first responder award winner, McCraney also teaches homeland security classes.

Loss prevention training at Mississippi College and other institutions nationwide “is not just for the big box stores,” McCraney said. It can be useful to people working in small businesses, too.

Besides taking a number of core courses in loss prevention, students will also sign up for introductory criminal justice classes, emergency management and others in the field.

The new certificate program has the attention of professionals like Dana Bruno, a staff member with the Louisiana Department of Homeland Security. Since February 2013, Dana has specialized in disaster recovery at the agency’s headquarters in Baton Rouge.

Bruno, who earned her bachelor’s and master’s in criminal justice from MC, says the field is growing rapidly. And so is the technology.

Wall cameras everywhere are pretty standard and so are loss prevention departments for large companies, McCraney said. It’s changed from years ago when store personnel simply walked the floors to try to protect their merchandise.

At the same time, law enforcement agents and business people are also learning how new technology can help crack down on counterfeit merchandise at flea markets and on e-commerce sites.

For additional information, contact Mississippi College administration of justice director Harry Porter at 601.925.3266 or hporter@mc.edu.

Photo: Mississippi College Criminal Justice Faculty