STC to launch Corrections Academy this summer
The County Corrections Academy will begin this summer at the Regional Center of Public Safety Excellence in Pharr. It will be a six-week accelerated program that will help students enter a high-demand field in a local county detention facility with physical agility and training to meet the state certification requirements.
To tackle a never-ending shortage of correctional officers in the state, South Texas College is getting ready to launch one of its newest programs – the County Corrections Academy.
The program will begin this summer expanding on the Public Safety programs offered at the Regional Center of Public Safety Excellence in Pharr.
“County correction officers must be licensed through the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, our program is designed to provide students with the academic skills and support needed to complete it,” said Victor Valdez, program chair for the Public Safety program. “Currently, county jails train their new employees with their own resources, but with this program they can come here, to STC. In addition, those who haven’t been hired, but want to apply, can get their license as well.”
STC’s County Corrections Academy will be a six-week accelerated program that will help students enter a high-demand field in a local county detention facility with physical agility and training to meet the state certification requirements. Additionally, graduating from the program will earn students nine college credits that they can use towards a degree in law enforcement.
Classes will start in June and will be held Monday through Friday for five hours.
STC will host two academies in the spring and fall and one in the summer, for a total of five opportunities to enroll throughout the year.
Valdez explained that this program is a year in the making and is a result of a long-time partnership with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office.
“We are working very hard on a program that will not only graduate good quality correction officers, but will help our students pass the state exam on their first attempt. Our program meets state requirements and meets state demands, so our industry partners know that their employees are highly qualified,” Valdez said.
We are working very hard on a program that will not only graduate good quality correction officers, but will help our students pass the state exam on their first attempt. Our program meets state requirements and meets state demands, so our industry partners know that their employees are highly qualified
Admission into the program requires a polygraph test, a medical and psychological screening and a fingerprint submission to ensure a person’s eligibility to work at a city or county jail when they graduate.
“The jailer position in law enforcement is often unappreciated and overlooked,” Valdez explained. “We’re looking for students with a strong ethical background who want to serve their community and understand the importance of following the rules.”
STC Law Enforcement Instructor Fernando Cano emphasized that this program can be a steppingstone for students interested in law enforcement.
“This is actually a great steppingstone to determine if this is a career they want to continue to pursue. They will learn how to deal with stressful situations that will give them a real perspective on law enforcement,” Cano said. “It’s also just a six-week program, a short commitment that will pay well for the amount of time they will be investing.”
Cano added that those enrolled in this program will also be trained in ethics to gain awareness on how to be respectful of inmates. He shared that working as a correctional officer for two years before becoming a police officer helped him understand the importance of treating people fairly and respectfully.
“Some people are in jail unnecessarily or they’re being accused falsely, which is why all inmates must be treated fairly, objectively and humanely. We want to encourage them to be respectful,” he said. “They might be dealing with people with mental illnesses who might also be aggressive, we will teach them how to de-escalate those type of situations and how to avoid getting into trouble by instructing on human relations, cultural awareness and ethics.”
Additionally, the program will include an overview on how properly register inmates’ information and on administration.
“We will see everything related with an inmate’s process when entering the jail, as well as the intake process, fingerprinting, paperwork, searching, restraining and transporting. We will also discuss the importance of ensuring that their rights are protected as far as recreational time or visitation.”
To apply for the County Corrections Academy or for more information on training and programs offered at STC’s Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence, visit southtexascollege.edu/rcpse/ or call 956-872-4208.