Master plan includes future buildings, driving track, fire training facilities and shooting range

PHARR - South Texas College, the City of Pharr and the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo School District (PSJA ISD) held a groundbreaking ceremony for the highly anticipated Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence (RCPSE) on Friday, March 3 at 4300 S. Cage Blvd.

The new RCPSE will be the conduit by which prospective and current law enforcement professionals will further their education.

South Texas College remains the only location where police cadets can receive college credit during their training, and the new facilities will allow for increased opportunities for Continuing Education credit for current police officers in agencies across the Valley. 

“A number of students have expressed their desire to come to the South Texas College police academy from other areas because other facilities don’t offer credits for college,” said STC Chief of Police and Director of Safety and Security, Paul Varville. “We are going to be conducting Continuing Education Courses for police officers employed in police departments throughout the Valley. By offering those education courses, not only will police officers receive TCOLE credit, which they need to get 40 hours every two years, they will also receive college credits."

Varville also said there will be adequate classrooms available and the facilities to provide firearms instruction and qualification along with a vehicle driving range for training. Currently there is no vehicle driving range in the Rio Grande Valley.

The $10 million facility has been designed by PBK Architects and Dannenbaum Engineering Company-McAllen, LLC and constructed by Noble Texas Builders. Phase One will include a new 19,375 square foot building and the only vehicle driving track south of San Antonio.

The new building will house classrooms, administration spaces and offices, computer lab, shower/locker rooms, support spaces, a workout room & simulation room. Three classrooms will be able to convert to a larger lecture hall by the use of folding partition walls. The interior of the facility will have plenty of natural lighting with the design of clerestory windows above and will be using a chilled water system to cool the facility.

Apart from the building, a total of 138 parking spaces will be included along with a skills pad to be used for vehicular training by law enforcement & fire emergency students. The site has been master planned for future buildings, driving track, fire training facilities, and shooting range.

More than $4 million of funding for the facility stems from the $159 million bond passed by voters in Nov. 2013 as well as donations by the City of Pharr, Pharr-San Jan-Alamo Independent School District and the Texas Department of Public Safety, which contributed $1.6 million towards the building’s construction.

Pharr has contributed 59 acres of land worth $2.5 million, and the Basic Peace Office Certification Program will initially be operated in part with the Pharr Police Academy.

"Pharr's commitment to this campus and training facility was an investment not only in our community, but for the benefit of the entire region,” Pharr mayor Ambrosio Hernandez said. “With our great partnerships and more than 200 acres of land availability nearby, this Public Safety Campus lays the groundwork to eventually serve as a unique national model for homeland security that will accommodate the security, law enforcement and public safety training needs on a local, regional, state-wide, and national level.”

PSJA ISD contributed 10 acres of land and an additional $1 million for the construction of four classrooms to serve dual enrollment students in criminal justice and other public safety programs.

"This state-of-the-art facility will be the first college campus in the tri-city community, made possible by the great partnership that exists between South Texas College, the City of Pharr and PSJA ISD," Dr. Daniel King, PSJA ISD Superintendent said. "It will be used by law enforcement agencies for training, certification and practice, and will increase access to higher education to our students and all our citizens.

"Through PSJA's Early College partnership with STC, many more of our students will be able to earn degrees and become certified in numerous areas that will advance their education and preparation for the careers of their choice," Dr. King said.