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Monday, May 27, 2024
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Empowering Women to Lead in Law Enforcement

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A total of 20 attendees from eight different agencies recently participated in the Leadership for Women in Law Enforcement training hosted by South Texas College and led by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC). STC Image
A total of 20 attendees from eight different agencies recently participated in the Leadership for Women in Law Enforcement training hosted by South Texas College and led by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC). STC Image
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By Selene Rodriguez

To encourage gender diversity and opportunities for females across the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas College recently hosted the Leadership for Women in Law Enforcement class, led by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC), a component of the United States Department of Homeland Security.

“We felt it was crucial to introduce this class to the Valley. While it’s gender-neutral, it particularly resonates with women that are or aspire to obtain executive roles or are seeking self-improvement,” said Robert Vela Jr., site administrator for STC’s Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence (RCPSE). “Having more women in leadership roles brings diverse perspectives, which will ultimately benefit our region. We’re committed to fostering these opportunities and encourage more women to pursue law enforcement careers.”

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Established in 2012 and delivered nationwide as well as overseas, the training program is specifically designed to address the distinctive challenges faced by women aspiring to advance within the profession.

By facilitating the exchange of perspectives and delving into topics such as achieving work-life balance, emotional intelligence and communication skills, the participants can enhance their leadership capabilities and personal growth, exploring pathways to become more effective leaders and well-rounded individuals.

“I took this class twelve years ago as a patrol officer, and I felt it was necessary for me to revisit it as a newly promoted lieutenant, not only to better myself, but to be better for the people I serve,” explained Lieutenant Nuria Archbold of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office in Florida. “Traveling to Texas to learn from the challenges officers face in the RGV reinforces the notion that we’re not so different. We’re all in this profession to serve and support one another, and it’s vital that we come together to do just that.”

Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office Sergeant Estela Rodriguez, who is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership at STC, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing that one of the most significant challenges female officers encounter doesn’t stem from their male counterparts, but rather from within themselves. 

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“As women, we often feel the need to work harder or constantly prove ourselves. It’s crucial that we set an example of support and empowerment, not just for ourselves but for future generations,” she said. “We aim to leave a legacy where they have equal or even greater opportunities.”

Throughout a series of diverse discussions and workshops, a total of 20 participants from eight different agencies, which include San Juan Police Department, Ector County Sherriff’s Office, STC Police Department and Brazoria County Sherriff’s Office, shared their experiences of balancing responsibilities as mothers, wives, homemakers and individuals, all while navigating their demanding careers in a male-dominated field.

The week-long training program culminated with a group presentation and an expert panel featuring Weslaco Chief of Police Joel Rivera, Texas Ranger Captain Melba Saenz and Texas 13th District Court of Appeals Judge Clarissa Silva.

The guests spoke candidly about moments of self-doubt but also expressed a shared passion for serving their communities and making a difference, sharing their unique perspectives both as professionals and on a personal level.

They also recounted the challenges they faced in the past and offered advice on how to overcome them, emphasizing the importance of communication, respect and fostering a sense of community as crucial elements of success in leadership roles.

For Pharr Police Department Internal Affairs Officer Laura Renteria, this training presents a valuable opportunity to expand her knowledge and skills in empowering women and fostering their participation in law enforcement careers within the region.

“Having been a female officer for the past 20 years in the RGV, I have seen how we often need to work harder than men to prove ourselves,” she shared. “My advice to aspiring female officers is to come in with a strong mindset, show your capabilities and be prepared for tough situations. We need more women in law enforcement to show it’s not just for men. Our unique skills, like defusing tense situations, make us just as valuable.”

For more information on Public Safety Training or Law Enforcement programs at STC, visit southtexascollege.edu/rcpse/or call 956-872-4203.

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