Representatives from the RGV law enforcement community recently met for South Texas College’s first President’s Advisory Council Retreat. Here, leaders provided regular input and recommendations for professional continuing education and degree programs. Law enforcement is coordinating with STC to develop an action plan as the STC Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence gets underway.
Earlier this year, STC President Shirley A. Reed extended an invitation to leaders of the law enforcement community for inclusion on the Advisory Council.
“All of you were hand-selected as members of our law enforcement community, and you all have something unique and different to contribute,” said Reed. “Today is the day we want to hear from you. We are trying to transition from having all of you participate in this project, to having you really be a stakeholder and having ownership with total commitment to the goals of this project.”
State Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa was in attendance at the retreat along with representatives from federal agencies. This includes Laredo Field Operations Director David Higgerson, RGV Customs and Border Protection Sector Chief Manuel Padilla, and Maria Michel-Manzo from Homeland Security Investigations. Agents Robert Flores and Noel Rangel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were also in attendance.
Representing local police departments on the council were McAllen Chief Victor Rodriguez, Mercedes Chief Olga Maldonado and Mission Chief Robert Dominguez. Also participating were Pharr Interim Chief Jose Luengo, Rio Grande City Chief Noe Castillo and Weslaco Chief Joel Rivera.
“We are going to create a center of excellence for training our law enforcement, and I think it’s going very well,” said Hinojosa. “It is extremely important because they are the ones who will benefit from the training available, and it’s important to hear from them about what their needs are. We need to know about their priorities so they can do their job to protect the public.”
The Office of the US Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance facilitated the retreat. It will now prepare a report that includes the three goals decided upon by law enforcement. Representatives from the BJA at the retreat included facilitators Becky Rose and Pam Cammarata.
STC RCPSE Chief Administrator Paul Varville said STC learned a lot about what law enforcement is looking for when it comes to course development.
“We allowed a lot of input from the various council members,” Varville said. “We talked about cost factors involved in training, and we are fortunate that we have legislative leaders here who are seeking new funds from the legislature for our venture.”
The council now serves as the principal means to develop advanced training programs at the RCPSE. It also ensures that those programs remain current despite changing conditions.
The next meeting between the council and STC takes place Dec. 6.
About the Public Safety, Law Enforcement, Fire Science, and Homeland Security Campus
South Texas College’s state-of-the-art facility will expand the college’s capacity to provide educational opportunities for the public. The Pharr facility will include academic buildings, law enforcement and fire safety training structures and vehicle skills pad. It will also include emergency vehicle operations course, simulated weapons center and a target range. The target range will be open to the public. It will be available for firearms safety training, practice shooting, skills development and National Rifle Association certifications.
The $71.28 million dollar long-range master plan sits on a 64-acre site with 180 additional acres available for future expansion. The center will open in three phases over the next decade,