HCC female cadet hopes to impact police shortage and community

Jun 13, 2017

Police Cadet

Reports show a significant shortage of female police officers around the country, with women comprising only 12 percent of those entering law enforcement. In Houston Community College’s (HCC) police academy classes, diverse groups of females hope to increase those numbers.

Rebecca Hernandez is one of 10 female police cadets in her class at the HCC Public Safety Center of Excellence (COE). Hernandez hopes to continue the legacy of law enforcement in her family by following in the footsteps of her grandfather, father and uncle. Once Hernandez completes the program and is hired by a law enforcement agency, she will become the first female police officer in her family.

Giving back to the community is what drives Hernandez to push through the physical training and academic difficulty of the program. “It is not about the money for me,” Hernandez says. “I believe that females are good communicators and there are not enough bilingual officers out there. So, I want to help families in the community who do not speak English. Hernandez is not only bilingual in English and Spanish, she is also able to communicate in sign language.

Hernandez hopes to use her position as a future officer to help abused children and their families. She is expected to learn a lot from her instructor Catheryn Gardner, a former child abuse investigator, who served 30 years in the Houston Police Department.

“It wasn’t difficult to work in a primarily male environment,” says Gardner. “Women tend to listen a little bit better and men tend to have the physical aspect. So, together they make a great team.”

The HCC police academy training program is designed to challenge the cadets and test their abilities based on standards set by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE). Students in the program must show an academic and physical ability, psychological stability, and character excellence. They learn about laws, proper procedures, driving maneuvers, basic emergency medical procedures, arrests, and firing weapons.

The HCC program is rated Exemplary by TCOLE with a pass rate on the state exam of 98 percent. Through continuous educational outreach to the community the Public Safety COE aims to increase the number of citizens, especially women, who choose to become first responders.

For more information on COE programs and upcoming orientation dates, visit hccs.edu/publicsafety.

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