South Texas College hosts inaugural President’s Advisory Retreat
Law enforcement professionals are coordinating with South Texas College (STC) to develop a functioning action plan as the STC Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence (RCPSE) gets underway.
The law enforcement community had the opportunity to offer their input at STC’s first President’s Advisory Council Retreat Aug. 30. The purpose of the one-day retreat, according to the college, was to provide each member on the Council a platform for exchange of information and collaboration.
Earlier this year, STC President Dr. Shirley A. Reed extended an invitation to leaders of the law enforcement community for inclusion on the Advisory Council. The Council was created to provide regular input and recommendations for professional continuing education and degree programs.
“All of you were hand-selected as members of our law enforcement community, and you all have something unique and different to contribute,” said Dr. Reed said. “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, D-McAllen, was in attendance at the retreat along with representatives from federal agencies including Laredo Field Operations Director David Higgerson, RGV Customs and Border Protection Sector Chief Manuel Padilla, Agents Robert Flores and Noel Rangel from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), and Maria Michel-Manzo from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).
Representing local police departments on the Council was McAllen Chief Victor Rodriguez; Mercedes Chief Olga Maldonado; Mission Chief Robert Dominguez; 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 Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, D-McAllen. “I thank President Dr. Shirley Reed for her leadership. She has been relentless in making this work and bringing in all the law enforcement agencies here in South Texas.
“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,” Hinojosa said. “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 (BJA) facilitated the retreat, and 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.
“We are going to create a center of excellence for training our law enforcement, and I think it’s going very well. 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.”
STC RCPSE chief Administrator Paul Varville said STC learned a lot about what law enforcement is looking for when it comes to course development.
“This is our second meeting with the council for the regional training center and we found today that 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, and to ensure that those programs remain current despite changing conditions.
The $71.28 million dollar long-range master plan—that will transform the regional center to a Public Safety, Law Enforcement, Fire Science, and Homeland Security Campus by 2030—is on a 64-acre site, in Pharr, Texas with 180 additional acres available for future expansion. The Master Plan will include 534,385 square feet of buildings, structures and driving track, and will be completed in three phases over the next decade.
“We want to put together an action plan, we have survey results and we have heard loud and clear your areas of interest and what your needs are,” Dr. Reed said. “We should have a functioning action plan for moving forward.”
By the end of the meeting, administrators says they found common goals with members of the council that will go a long way to provide the training needed for law enforcement in the Rio Grande Valley. The next meeting between the council and STC is slated for December 6, 2018.