• June 21, 2024

STC alumnus’ commitment to family and school safety

STC alumnus’ commitment to family and school safety

Becoming a father was a pivotal moment for South Texas College Police Academy alumnus Romel Hinojosa, who, upon the birth of his first son, decided to embark on a career field that would allow him to spend time with his three children and keep them safe.

From an aspiring pilot in the Air Force to a successful private investigator, and now a police officer with the McAllen Independent School District (McAllen ISD), he found his true calling in law enforcement.

“My dream was always to become a pilot, and I believed that the military would be the way to do it,” he shared. “But when I became a father, everything changed. My son had been alive for two years while I was away and I realized I couldn’t miss out on any more of his life. I wanted to be there for him, to be present.”

Hinojosa, a 45-year-old Michigan native raised in Mercedes, was always drawn to the law enforcement field, he pursued a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and soon found that it wasn’t for him.

However, during his time in college, he met the love of his life, who encouraged him to follow his dreams and join the Air Force in 2000.

During the six years he served away from home, they married and started a family.

“I truly enjoyed my time in the military, even though I never got to be a pilot. It’s not as easy as one might think,” he explained. “I did get to fly and experience everything I wanted to, but there came a point where being a present husband and father was more important.”

Returning home to the Rio Grande Valley, he opened a private investigation business, a successful endeavor that provided him with the financial freedom to care for his family while pursuing other interests.

“Most of my cases involved insurance fraud. Investigating these cases was somewhat like law enforcement but with more freedom. I got to be my own boss and work independently,” he said. “Still, being a police officer was always in the back of my mind because I missed serving my community, something I learned in the military. Putting others before yourself, that’s what I missed. To serve and protect, as they say.”

So, through friend’s recommendation, he found his way to STC’s Police Academy and enrolled as part of the college’s eighth cohort.

“I chose STC because it has the highest standards,” he explained. “Everybody knows STC will prepare you well, both physically and academically.”

Upon graduating in 2015, he served as a Reserved Deputy at the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office while still growing his business.

A few years later, he seized the opportunity to become a police officer for his children’s school district, still determined to pursue law enforcement while staying close to his family, closing his company soon after.

“I could have pursued traditional policing, but as a father, this opportunity was better for my family. I always want to be involved, attending their recitals, band concerts, games, and such,” he said. “Working as a police officer for McAllen ISD meant getting to spend time with them, following their schedule, and keeping them safe.”

Today, as an Emergency Management Officer for McAllen’s school district, he plays a vital role in protecting thousands of students across the district, a responsibility he finds deeply fulfilling.

“It’s been truly rewarding and different in so many ways from my previous roles. You connect with these kids in unique ways. For the younger kids, you’re the first authority figure they encounter, so you have to make sure it’s a positive impression,” he said. “For older students, especially those who tend to get into trouble, you might be one of the few positive male figures in their lives. I take that responsibility very seriously.”

He takes pride in serving 30 schools and contributing to a movement to keep students safe in today’s climate, feeling that fate guided him to this role.

“With the times we are in, school policing has really changed. We are potentially at the forefront of an attack and have to be ready for that,” he said. “We’re blessed at McAllen ISD to have the necessary training and tools to be as prepared as possible. We also have over 60 police officers, which is rare for an ISD Police Department.”

Even though he graduated from STC almost 10 years ago, Hinojosa maintains a strong connection to the college, often visiting the Regional Center for Public Safety Excellence in Pharr for continuous training and advancement.

“Recently, I attended a Crisis Management course. It’s about the third time I’ve been to the facility. It’s incredible to see how much the program and its resources have grown.”

For more information on STC’s Police Academy or other Public Safety programs and training opportunities offered visit southtexascollege.edu/rcpse/ or call 956-872-4208.

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