In November, UTPA established a post, or chapter of the National Law Enforcement Exploring Program. The program is designed to provide additional opportunities and experiences outside the traditional classroom for students who are considering a career in law enforcement.
“I believe that the University Police have a unique opportunity of being of service to our students who are interested in law enforcement,” said Roger Stearns, UTPA Police Department chief. “This is an opportunity for them to get exposed to law enforcement from a professional side and build their résumé.”
Students who participate in this program will receive training in burglary in progress, robbery in progress, crime scene investigation, crime prevention, unknown risk and high risk traffic stops, drug arrests, search and seizure, domestic disturbance, bomb threat response, crisis negotiation, accident investigation and active shooter response.
According to Stearns, the skills built into the program are essential to be successful in a police academy.
“This is a really good preparation program leading into a police academy,” he said. “Most students who are in the explorer program and move on to a police academy tend to be at the top of their academy class.”
Also available to students are internships with the department and direct wage paid positions. Stearns said he would be proud to see students represent the UTPA Police Department while pursuing their degree.
Beyond building skills, students will also have the chance to be recognized for their achievements in the explorer program. Students can earn recognition ribbons in the following areas: crime prevention, drug awareness, basic law enforcement training, completion of 60 hours introductory training and attendance at the National Law Enforcement Explorer Leadership Academy and its Conference and Competition.
To be a member of the Law Enforcement Explorer Program there are some requirements such as being in good academic standing. There are also membership fees. However, the University’s police department will be covering the costs.
“I don’t want a student’s financial situation to be a barrier in having the opportunity to participate in this program,” Stearns said. “Therefore, uniforms and equipment will be covered by us as well.”
There is a common misconception about the Law Enforcement Explorer Program. According to Stearns many students believe that the program is available for criminal justice majors only. However, he said, the program is open to all majors.
“We need diverse educational backgrounds and a variety of degrees represented in this profession,” he said. “We don’t only need police officers and agents, but we need support and operational workers as well.”
Other possible careers in law enforcement include lab analysts, crime scene technicians, intelligence analysts and a number of other civilian positions.
“I want to instill in our students that no matter your position in law enforcement you have leadership responsibilities,” Stearns said.
The program is currently in its initial stages with year-round recruiting. Students may join at any time and are encouraged to help in the membership drive set for spring 2010.
“I hope that we can create not only successful police officers, support and operational staff, but also great leaders,” Stearns said.
Students, as well as faculty and staff can look forward to the Citizen Police Academy beginning in spring.
For more information on the Law Enforcement Exploring Program,contact Stearns at 956/381-2727 or Sergeant Delma Lopez at 956/384-5014.