EDINBURG, Texas (KVEO) -- Nine cadets maneuver a police cruiser in and out of the orange cones. They're trying to pass the emergency vehicle operations course. It's just one step toward becoming a police officer.
"It is a requirement for the job I have as an assistant fire marshal, that everybody has to be a certified peace officer," said Felipe Pedraza, Cadet.
But this academy is different. The Pharr Police Department and South Texas College are running this course together, so not only will these cadets get their peace officer certificate, they will also get 24 college credit hours.
In the next five years, the college plans to graduate 120 cadets, and those graduates won't all just go to the Pharr Police Department. Upon graduation they can work for any texas law enforcement agency.
But increasing violence along the border might keep most of these future officer locally employed.
"With homeland security issues, we are seeing a need for more police in this area. And we are trying to fill that void with highly trained officers," said Joel Rivera, STC Public Safety Program Chair.
It's a 20 week program that produces a qualified officer and gives them a nudge toward completing a college education.