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Professional Investigation program to train next generation of gumshoes

Surveillance, interviewing techniques, and Internet research skills

This semester Boston University will begin offering an academic guide to the art of the stakeout.

Surveillance — along with interviewing techniques and research skills — form the core of the new Professional Investigation Certificate program, which begins this month at the Center for Professional Education. The professional investigation and security industries are expected to experience major growth over the next decade, according to Ruth Ann Murray, CPE director, and BU’s program is designed to thoroughly prepare students to compete in the field.

“It’s a really good job-changing field,” Murray says. “You need to be a good problem-solver, be inquisitive, and have follow-up skills.”

The seven-course, 161-hour program is designed for students seeking professional development in fields such as insurance and law enforcement as well as for novices looking for a career change. Classes include Investigative Interviewing, Surveillance, Legal Issues in Professional Investigation, and Practice Management for Professional Investigators and are held at CPE’s Waltham campus on Saturdays. Students will also do fieldwork outside of class.

The program was developed in consultation with criminal defense investigator Brandon Perron, the author of Uncovering Reasonable Doubt, and will be directed by Tom Shamshak, past president of the Licensed Private Detectives Association of Massachusetts and an occasional guest commentator on CNN.

Other instructors include licensed private investigators, attorneys, former State Police officers, and Internet research experts. “It’s a rigorous academic program, with a lot of hands-on fieldwork, taught by people with expertise in the field,” says Murray.

Eight students have enrolled for the current semester; the center eventually hopes to offer the program three times each year. Upon completion of the course work, students receive a certificate in professional investigation from the University.

CPE currently offers more than 20 different certificate programs in a variety of fields. The Professional Investigation program was added, Murray says, to reflect the increasingly stringent requirements of competing in the growing investigation and security industry.

“This is a really solid curriculum,” she says, “and it’s a very important field.”