Texas Border Business
By Joey Gomez
McALLEN, Texas – South Texas College has set an important milestone by recognizing its first cohort of students who have completed the college’s Basic County Corrections Academy in partnership with Hidalgo County.
“These students have done something that has never been done at STC. We started something here with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office and we couldn’t be prouder of what these students have accomplished,” said Victor Valdez, STC’s Public Safety program chair. “These two rose to the top and were able to not only finish the program but also pass their state exams. This allows them to be employed with Hidalgo County and we look forward to many more successful graduates who can help us build on this foundation.”
STC’s County Corrections Academy is a six-week accelerated program designed to help students enter a high-demand field in a local county detention facility with physical agility and training to meet state certification requirements.
Created in collaboration with the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office, the program is designed to offer a job to all students that successfully complete the six-week academy and pass the corresponding Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) licensing examination.
Completing the program earns students nine college credits that they can later use towards a degree in law enforcement.
On average, a corrections officer with Hidalgo County can earn a starting salary of $36,659 and obtain additional compensation according to their education.
“We are proud to offer students jobs once they are done with their education here. I have worked with both of these gentlemen personally and I know this is history in the making. These students have a job waiting for them,” said Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office Training Coordinator Sgt. David Muniz “It’s the first step in a great law enforcement career for these students who were able to set a very high bar for future students.”
STC’s Corrections Academy gives students an overview on how to properly register inmates’ information, including classes on administration and ethics and humanities that will help the students learn how to deal and deescalate stressful situations by treating inmates fairly, objectively and humanely.
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.
Additionally, the program will include an overview on how to properly register inmates’ information and on administration.
“This was a learning experience as we got everything started and settled but everything worked out better than we could have hoped. Our partnership with Hidalgo County ran smoothly and they helped provide everything that was needed including additional resources for instruction along with tours of county facilities,” said STC academy instructor Fernando Cano. “The Corrections Officer Detention position overall is a great steppingstone towards a future career in law enforcement. It’s where students get to work with issues in a real-world setting like detainment or crowd suppression for example. This is great initial exposure to what they can expect should they decide to pursue a career in law enforcement.”
Academy cadet David De Los Santos, 18, said the program offered a crucial first step in his career goal as he seeks to enter a career with Customs and Border Protection in the near future.
“I have always wanted to be in law enforcement, so this is a great first step in the process,” De Los Santos said. “For future students entering this program I would like to tell them that as long as they pay attention and come ready to work, they will go far. This program did a great job in fully preparing us for exams and gave us all the tools to succeed. As long as there is 100 percent commitment, you will be successful.”
Cadet Jose Zuniga, 18, said he was drawn to the program after visiting the STC’s Regional Center as a high school senior in the spring.
“It was great to be a part of something new,” Zuniga said. “I have received a lot of support from faculty and staff here as I get ready to move on to my future career. Working with Hidalgo County is going to get me ahead as I look to a career with the Sheriff’s Department and then hopefully a position as a state trooper.”
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 www.southtexascollege.edu/rcpse/ or call 956-872-4208.