Since partnering with Harlingen CISD in August, Texas Department of Public Safety State Troopers in the area have each adopted three schools that have been added to their regular patrol routes.
Earlier this year, Governor Greg Abbott convened a group of superintendents, administrators, and law enforcement officials to consider possible improvements to the safety of Texas schools. A recurring theme in the discussions was the importance of partnerships between schools and local law enforcement.
Though the program aims to enhance school safety by providing additional law enforcement presence at schools, this plan of action is giving troopers an opportunity to share with students the work they carry out each day and is helping strengthen their ties to the local community.
Officer Larry Mendez recently had the chance to captivate students’ interest with stories about his life on-duty during a career day event held at Harlingen High School.
“What I like is how the kids are engaged, and they like law enforcement,” said Mendez. “They’re so intrigued with the stories that we have to share. Lots of students have come up to talk to us that have that desire to be where we’re at right now.”
For Mendez, it’s not just about reaching students at an academic or occupational level but inspiring them.
“I think that it is essential, the meaning behind this effort,” said Mendez. “Yes, we want to enhance the security and the protection of the kids. But I think, it’s about a lot more than that. It’s about being an example for somebody who may not have a role model or to be that mentor for somebody that has big dreams but has never had that person to guide them.”
HCISD is providing office space to officers for breaks, lunch, filing reports, and making assigned troopers a part of the school community. Troopers have offered to give presentations, read to students and are eager to work with campus principals to become a recognized presence at their assigned campuses.