Preparing the Badge

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South Texas College’s Law Enforcement program is built for aspiring law enforcement officers and those who want more skills to further their careers.

Instructor Jennifer Rosillo is a perfect example of that path. She was working as a dispatcher and wanted the skills and training to become a full-time police officer. She trained through the STC Police Academy, became an officer, and less than 10 years later is an instructor in the program, passing the knowledge onto budding and future law enforcement officers.

“This program helps you to become a successful law enforcement officer,” Rosillo said. “You get all the tools, all the knowledge you’re going to need once you’re out there patrolling the streets.”

Rosillo eventually left her position of patrolling the community to teach students on a full-time basis. She says the work is rewarding, and seeing the success keeps her motivated.

“I love it, especially after my cadets come in full uniform and just seeing them smile and be proud to wear that uniform,” Rosillo said. “It just makes me proud because I know I helped them get there.”

Officer Araseli Guerrero serves as a police officer in Raymondville. She was inspired to join the field because she has a brother in a high rank in the Dallas-Fort Worth region.

“When I was a little girl, I looked up to him, and that motivated me to join the police academy,” Guerrero said. “The program has prepared me by focusing on penal code, criminal code, procedure and a lot of scenarios that help develop that muscle memory to use out in the field.”

Officer Jacklyn Rodriguez of the Pharr Police Department also had dreams of wearing a badge from a young age. She used STC to springboard her into a career in a community she feels is growing.

“Every since I was young, I wanted to be a police officer,” Rodriguez said. “Most of my coworkers went through the program at STC.”

Rodriguez says the program was a huge part of her professional development.

“STC was the foundation of my career — it was the stepping stone,” Rodriguez said. “It’s what helped me learn and grow into what it means to be a police officer.”

Something that kept coming up in responses was the vital focus on practical tools to succeed in the heat of a very stressful career path.

“From my experience here at STC, we do scenarios,” Rodriguez said. “Those scenarios help us when we’re out on the street. Not only what it takes for us to arrest somebody, but these practice scenarios show us more than just the law. It shows us events that the officers or department do, and how to interact with the community in that aspect. It helped me communicate better, and to see the perspective of law enforcement officers more.”

Pharr Police Chief Andy Harvey highlighted the impact of STC on the Law Enforcement field and the region in general.

“We have a real gem here in South Texas College for the Valley,” Harvey said. “They provide so many programs, speaking from the law enforcement side, I can tell you their passion to help people and develop officers is amazing. Here in Pharr, the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence is something you don’t see very often in the nation. It provides top-notch training and top-notch instructors.”

Rosillo said that the program does a great job of breaking molds and helping women break into a male-dominated field. She’s seen timid women join and make a complete 180 change before entering the job.

“At times, it gets difficult for females to want to join the force only because in this career, you’re surrounded by a lot of men,” Rosillo said. “You have to have thick skin and a lot of confidence because we’re just as able to do anything a man can. Women are just as able.”

Harvey said women in the police force are huge assets. Statistics show they receive fewer complaints and communicate well with the community.

“It seems like females can communicate in a way that is less threatening and that’s not to say that’s weak because females are very strong and they just bring something different to the table that makes us better,” Harvey said.

STC offers multiple paths depending on if an individual is already a law enforcement officer and looking to expand their education in an academic program or if someone is aiming to go through the police academy for the first time. Details and application requirements can be found at southtexascollege.edu/academics/law-enforcement/index.html.

As the RGV grows, STC is in a position to help facilitate this growth and train students in programs that target the career and technical education fields so that employment gaps are filled.

Supported with THECB Perkins Basic funding. For more information visit: https://bt.southtexascollege.edu/persist/.

Nathaniel Mata