Campus police at Donna High School are busy every day with their assigned duties. But their work-load is not keeping them from playing a role in the student’s academic success.
For the second year, DHS officers are partnering with members of the school’s Law Enforcement Club to help them prepare for the Skills USA Law Enforcement Competition Feb. 10 at South Padre Island. While the contest will judge students on several categories, the DHS club selected to compete in Building Search and Felony Traffic Stop.
Patrol Officer Robert Rodriguez and Club Sponsor and DHS Law Enforcement teacher Jose Cruz are helping to oversee the training internship program. Rodriguez said they will be posing several scenarios to give students a taste of police work and what they need to know to be successful at the competition.
“We will show them how to perform a traffic stop,” Rodriguez said. “We will take a police unit and show them exactly how to approach a vehicle. Then we will have them do it. We will also explain to them how to write a citation and find out if the driver is a wanted subject or if the car is stolen.”
Rodriguez said they will also simulate how to enter a structure. “We will demonstrate how to approach and enter a building or room and how to handle going after a wanted subject or a barricaded subject,” Rodriguez said. “If the location is determined to be a crime scene, we’ll teach them how to lift fingerprints from an area or a prisoner. Each scenario is different, so it’s important they learn the different possibilities that can happen.”
Cruz said his students are excited about the internship and preparing for the competition. “They will be around a police unit and get to see all the equipment the officers use daily,” Cruz said. “This same equipment is used in the competition so allowing students hands-on will be a tremendous help in preparing them. They won’t get to work with actual weapons but they will be using imitations which are similar to real weapons. Overall this will be an awesome experience for them.”
This experience is also an eye-opener for the students who are contemplating pursuing criminal justice as a career.
“The partnership with the campus police is a really good thing to take advantage of,” club member Samantha Soria said. “The officers have real-life experience and they know a whole lot more than us students do. They also allow us to use professional equipment that we may use in the future if we pursue a career in the law enforcement field.”
“I definitely would consider going into law enforcement in the future,” club member Karyme Pulido said. “I plan on being an attorney in the future, and because of this experience, I will know a plethora of concepts that I can use in my future career.”
The students are looking forward to the competition, which draws law enforcement students from throughout the Rio Grande Valley. This is the second year DHS students are participating. While the team did not place overall last year, one of the students placed first in one of the categories and went on to win at the state level.
“For being our first time and not knowing what to expect, the student ended up surprising everybody,” Cruz said. “Hopefully this year we will do better. They’re excited that they will be competing in something that they love and enjoy doing. That’s what it’s all about.”