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Released March 19, 2004


HATTIESBURG - Approximately 20 Canadian criminal justice students recently got a firsthand look at the American legal system through an exchange program with The University of Southern Mississippi.

Throughout the eight-year history of the program, participating students from Canada and Southern Miss have learned about the court system, law enforcement techniques and administration of correctional facilities among other areas of each country's legal system.

Southern Miss students travel north for similar educational experiences with Canadian law enforcement, including Canada's famous Royal Canadian Mounted Police, through the auspices of the Southern Miss Center for International and Continuing Education.

Southern Miss forensic science instructor Dean Bertram, who has played a key role in the development of the exchange program, said knowing how another county's legal system operates benefits him as a teacher. "It helps me give my students a more global perspective on the handling of crime issues," he said.

The Canadian students, who are studying police techniques as part of a four-year degree program required before attending a Canadian law enforcement academy, interacted with South Mississippi law enforcement personnel during their visit. Their experiences included ride-along sessions with coastal law enforcement agencies such as the Harrison and Jackson County sheriff's offices and the Pascagoula, Biloxi, Long Beach, Ocean Springs and Gulfport police departments.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol also participated in the program.

One of the Canadian students, Simon Theriault, liked the management of the region's county jails and correctional facilities and said the system should be emulated in his own country.

"I'm impressed," Theriault said. "It's like a real prison should be. It's a good model for us to follow in Canada."

Bertram praised the assistance of the agencies that worked with the students during their visit to south Mississippi. "What's impressed me most is the interagency cooperation among law enforcement in Mississippi (assisting with the exchange program)," he said. "They've been so helpful in accommodating the students. They've given them the red-carpet treatment."


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April 20, 2004 4:09 PM