Enrollment surges in STC Public Safety Programs
Police cadets at STC’s Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence endure training in this pre-COVID photo from 2019. Now a year later, enrollment has more than doubled at STC’s fire and police academies over last semester, according to Public Safety Program faculty.
South Texas College is experiencing a significant increase in the number of students entering courses at its Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence (RCPSE) this fall.
Enrollment has more than doubled at STC’s fire and police academies over last semester, according to law enforcement department chair Robert Vela who attributes the increase in part to intensified recruitment by college staff, as well as a recent partnership that enables law enforcement professionals to convert academy training into college credit.
At 27 students, STC is currently running its biggest Fire Academy Class Vela has seen since he began with the college nearly a decade ago.
STC faculty have also seen a dramatic increase in students seeking an Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Law Enforcement degree and a Basic Peace Officer Certificate program. For those students seeking certificates, STC is currently running four police academies (2 full-time and 2 part-time) with an aggregate total of 48 students.
On the AAS side, the college has had to hire three adjunct instructors this semester alone to handle the increased number of classes or sections.
“The increase is due to that passion to serve and protect. From those aspiring police officers enrolled in our academies to the police officers and border patrol agents looking to continue their education. They all want one thing and that is to be better prepared to serve their communities.”
“Some classes, like our Ethics and Intermediate Arrest Search and Seizure courses have multiple sections open because of the increased number of students enrolled this semester, (but) typically we have one section open per semester,” said Vela.
Part of the success and dramatic increase in enrollment in these two specific courses, and the program as a whole, can be credited to an MOU that was signed in April 2019, said Maricruz Hinojosa, Coordinator of College Connections.
That agreement created the partnership that enabled the program to go from 21 students in fall 2019 to 95 students in fall 2020. This enrollment is composed of law enforcement professionals not only across the RGV, but the state and nation.
It puts STC at the forefront, leading the way in awarding college credit to law enforcement professionals in the state of Texas. Police Officers, CBP Officers, Border Patrol Agents all get college credit for their academy, Hinojosa said.
“It’s easy when you think about it,” Hinojosa said. “The increase is due to that passion to serve and protect. From those aspiring police officers enrolled in our academies to the police officers and border patrol agents looking to continue their education. They all want one thing and that is to be better prepared to serve their communities.”
Despite the pandemic, STC has been able to accommodate the demand because all of the courses under the Associate Degrees in Law Enforcement and Fire Science are available to students fully online, according to Vela.
For insight into the range of courses available at STC’s RCPSE please visit https://www.southtexascollege.edu/rcpse/.
Law Enforcement professionals looking to continue their education at South Texas College can visit https://bt.southtexascollege.edu/law-enforcement/pathways.html#pathways or contact Maricruz Hinojosa, Coordinator of College Connections at 956-872-6749.