Seventeen cadets were sworn to serve and protect as new police officers, at a South Texas College police academy graduation ceremony, June 22, with family members on hand to pin their shiny new badges.
The class of cadets, consisting of 16 males and one female, successfully completed 21 weeks of intensive classroom instruction and hours of rigorous real-world simulation training. All of them passed the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement state exam on their first attempt. Six of them were sponsored by agencies; four from the Pharr Police Department and two from the McAllen Fire Department Fire Marshal’s Office.
In his remarks at the ceremony, Victor Valdez, Program Chair of STC’s Police Academy, asked his graduating cadets to remember who they were when they began their journey to become police officers. Valdez recalled telling them back then to avoid distractions and to wholeheartedly dedicate themselves to the academy, adding if they didn’t commit themselves, they would never make it.
“Well today, your hard work and sacrifice has paid off,” Valdez told new police officers at the graduation ceremony. “You will now begin a noble career.”
Law enforcement officials, college leadership, family and friends came together to honor the cadets at the 12th Police Academy completion ceremony on Thursday, June 22 at the McAllen Convention Center.
In attendance at the graduation ceremony was Joaquin Zamora, McAllen City Commissioner who attended as the keynote speaker for City Mayor Jim Darling. Other distinguished guests were Hidalgo County District Attorney Ricardo Rodriguez, 449th District Court Judge Rene Rodriguez-Betancourt, Pharr Police Department Chief of Police Ruben Villescas, McAllen Fire Department Chief Rafael Balderas, Hidalgo Co. Precinct 2 Chief Deputy Constable Armando Campos, and Weslaco City Commissioner Gerardo “Jerry” Tafolla, whose son also graduated from the academy.
“As you go out on the road, remember these things. Remember self-control; in everything you do. It will keep you safe. It will keep you out of trouble,” Valdez said. “You will be tested every day to do the right thing. With self-control, you will pass the test. Remember service to others; service to your community and service to your department. You are now a public servant.”