By JACOB LOPEZ
RIO HONDO – Shortly before a Rio Hondo City Commission meeting, cadets from the Texas State Technical College (TSTC) police academy received certificates of appreciation for their efforts at Rio Hondo’s National Night Out and the high school’s homecoming festivities.
The 10 Valley cadets, who are students at the TSTC academy in Harlingen, assisted Rio Hondo police at both events.
Rio Hondo Police Department Interim Chief Victor Tamayo expressed his appreciation for their actions, noting that Rio Hondo has a small police force, and the extra hands on deck — which conducted such tasks as directing parking — allowed for the department to focus personnel on security.
Rio Hondo Mayor Gustavo Olivares also took a moment to thank the cadets and issued their certificates alongside Tamayo.
Nathan Garza, instructor at the police academy and reserve officer for RHPD, said, “I’m proud of them. I think that’s one of the most important jobs that they have to do here.”
Garza was referring to public service.
“It’s not about arresting people and giving tickets,” he said. “Public service is the most important part, and I think that’s the lesson they learned here.”
Tamayo explained the importance of this sort of hands-on experience. “They’re going through an academy. They want to learn how to be law enforcement officers. This is a chance for them to get some kind of exposure with the police force,” he explained, adding that it helps the students learn some of what is expected of them in the future.
“I think it was important for them to get…like an internship, but on a volunteer basis,” said Tamayo.
Cadet Martin Juarez, who is also vice president for the class at Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC) Police Academy, said, “We came and we provided a little extra hands and bodies to help…”
“Some of them also came to help with the homecoming parade,” added Juarez.
“We do it [gain real-world experience] as often as it comes up. We’ve done it for Harlingen as well, and we’ve done it for the TSTC campus as well, where we take our classes…” he explained.
“It feels pretty good. It’s nice to know that somebody recognizes us for helping out in the community,” he added.
Garza said that the academy also helps out with emergency situations such as hurricanes when small municipalities may not have a large police force that can handle the increased demand in manpower.