Wednesday, May 22, 2019
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20180918 STCBuildingDedicationPHARR-As part of a partnership between multiple agencies across the Rio Grande Valley, South Texas College unveiled their brand new Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence. The $9.9 million facility is intended to meet the demand for more professionals in public safety and law enforcement.

At the Tuesday dedication ceremony, officials from STC, the city of Pharr and elected officials such as Gov. Greg Abbott attended the event.

“What you’ve done is help fulfill an essential mission for the state, to insure the next generation will be better educated than the one before us, and you are doing an outstanding job in making sure that vision comes to fruition,” Abbott said in his keynote address. “The reality is, higher education and public safety are essential to our future. Keeping communities safe must be our top priority. If we’re going to have the safety and security to be able to educate your kids or have the vibrant economy that we have, then law enforcement officers, firefighters, public safety professionals are essential to that top priority to ensure security in our state.”

The 19,500 square-foot Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence is the first phase of a $71 million plan to transform the center into a public safety, law enforcement, fire science and homeland security campus by 2030. Located at 3901 S. Cage Blvd adjacent to the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Southwest Early College High School, the facility includes 180 additional acres available for future expansion.

At the current facility, PSJA and STC criminal justice students, as well as law enforcement officers, can take advantage of the spacious training center for students, a driving pad and shooting and driving simulation lab. This center makes STC the first community college along the border to establish integrative training to the area.

“This project is coming to fruition because of partnerships, we are not doing it alone,” STC President Shirley Reed said at the event.

STC used about $4 million in funding from a $159 million bond issued in 2013 while the city of Pharr and PSJA donated land and the Texas Department of Public Safety contributed $1.5 million to the project, Reed said.

“This is phase one of a $71.5M project, we still have a way to go,” Reed said. “We have the startup funding to have a first-class training facility not only for our local law enforcement professionals but state, DPS, Border Patrol, the FBI, other agencies essentially. The contributions from our law enforcement community will have major impact on the successful implementation of the first community college RCPSE along the border.”

Daniel King, superintendent of the PSJA Independent School District, said the center would benefit the entire Valley as students outside of PSJA can use it. He believes the center will have a major impact on the area.

“It’s very needed for our area to upgrade public safety,” King said. “This will serve as a training center for state and federal law enforcement agencies where students can get a lot of exposure. Most young people who know they want to go into law enforcement probably don’t know all the avenues and agencies available. Having this center be made available here will provide students with the mentorship they need. With an already high presence of law enforcement along the border, it’s going to make everyone safer seeing all these different agencies coordinating together.”