Training Mexican Police Officers and City Council Members the West Texas A&M University Model

By Hueston, Harry | The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, January 2012 | Go to article overview

Training Mexican Police Officers and City Council Members the West Texas A&M University Model


Hueston, Harry, The FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin


Since 2005, members of the College of Education Study Abroad Program at West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) in Canyon have traveled to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. Faculty and students in the WTAMU Criminal Justice Department also have visited San Miguel de Allende to study the Mexican criminal justice system. As a result of these programs, criminal justice faculty members have worked with San Miguel de Allende's training director and police chief to create an exchange program for officers in San Miguel de Allende; the first exchange occurred in August 2010. The author offers insight into developing, implementing, and evaluating the training of police officers, as well as city council politicians, from San Miguel de Allende.

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Developing the Training Agenda

During the summer of 2010, the WTAMU dean of education; two criminal justice professors; one Amarillo, Texas, Police Department SWAT commander; and a warden from the Texas State Prison's Clements Unit discussed developing an exchange program between WTAMU and San Miguel de Allende's police department and city council. San Miguel de Allende's assistant police chief and a group of city council members presented various needs to the WTAMU professors visiting the city. As a result, the San Miguel de Allende police administration and city council members inquired about the possibility of their police officers and a few city council representatives traveling to WTAMU for a 1-week, intensive training program in August 2010. Endorsing this concept, the WTAMU dean of education and members of the criminal justice department identified topics to meet the needs of the department as defined by the assistant chief. In follow-up conversations with San Miguel de Allende city council members, the training agenda was revised to include additional sessions to meet the needs of the council members in charge of the city's public safety and victim services.

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* Community policing

* Special weapons use and firing opportunities

* Dignitary protection

* Organization and structure of police departments (city, county, state, and university)

* Role of the local district attorney

* Visits to and reviews of the regional police academy

* SWAT

* Gang recognition

* Understanding of the U.S. criminal justice system

* Prison and county jail operations

* Prisoner tracking

* Crime scene investigation techniques

* Emergency center operations

* Building and parking lot security measures

Facing the Challenges

Bringing international visitors to WTAMU presented challenges. The participants needed a visitor's visa from their government to enter the United States, as well as permission from the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS). With the support and endorsement of the dean of the education department and the WTAMU president, TAMUS granted permission. A TAMUS legal department liability release form was translated into Spanish and signed by each Mexican guest prior to participation in the intense training schedule.

Once the visa and liability issues were resolved, numerous logistical details related to plans for visits and discussions with the local law enforcement community to implement the final training schedule were addressed. Specifically, the professors coordinated activities or scheduled visits with representatives of the Clements Prison Unit; Texas Department of Public Safety; Randall County Sheriff's Department and District Attorney's Office; SWAT, gang, and bomb squads of the Amarillo, Texas, Police Department and city Emergency Operations Center; Panhandle Regional Police Training Academy; Texas Court of Appeals; a large Texas facility that maintains the safety and security of the nation's nuclear weapons; and WTAMU Police Department. …

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