South Texas College’s Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence is the first of its kind in the nation.
The new center was unveiled Tuesday afternoon in Pharr and State Representative of District 36, Sergio Muñoz Jr. said it was a discussion and concept that began many years ago with STC and the city of Pharr.
“We know that we have a high law enforcement presence, especially not only here in the Valley, but throughout the border when it comes to border security,” said Muñoz. “And what South Texas College [is] trying to do with law enforcement and the academy and how they tie into the educational credits is how it continued to go forward in terms of making it a master plan.”
The $71 million master plan includes transforming the regional center into a public safety, law enforcement and homeland security campus by 2030.
“For example, behind us what we’re going to have is a major track to help in the training of automobiles that could involve different situations,” said STC Board of Trustees Member Paul Rodriguez.
The center is part of phase one of the master plan that sits on 64 acres of land and was a $9.99 million investment. It focuses on training centers, a driving skills/skid pad along with a firearm and driving simulator, which is what STC Police Cadet Danny Longoria is looking forward to.
“The driving simulator got a couple of screens, so it got all your peripherals and it’s really used to demonstrate how we would safely navigate to an emergency scene,” said Longoria.
However, the center is a resource that federal law enforcement officials are also looking forward to.
“How it benefits us from Border Patrol and from Customs and Border Protection is the students will have options, federal law enforcement, state law enforcement or local law enforcement,” said Manuel Padilla Jr., Chief of the RGV Border Patrol Sector.
There is still 180 acres available that will go toward future expansions like training areas for fire science professionals and homeland security.
The center is part of STC’s $159 million bond project that was passed by voters in November 2013. The land was donated by the city of Pharr and PSJA donated a million dollars in additional acreage.