Hispanic Connection

NEW SPC-PRTI Satellite Opening at Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico

by Dr Ernesto Fernandez-Santiago (This article is also available in Spanish.)

PR presentationThanks to an initiative started by Dr. Carl M. Kuttler, Jr., President of St. Petersburg College (SPC), supported by SPC’s Board of Trustees and coordinated through Mrs. Eileen LaHaie, Executive Director of the Center for Public Safety Innovation, SPC donated over 300 computers and other classroom furniture and equipment to the Florida Regional Community Policing Institute’s (RCPI) Puerto Rico Training Initiative (PRTI) as part of a partnership between SPC and the PRTI.  PRTI, under the direction of Dr. Ernesto Fernandez-Santiago, has been training law enforcement and the community in the tenets of community policing and other cutting edge topics over the past 6 years.  Most of the funding for the trainings has come from the Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, awarded to the RCPI for training in the Caribbean Islands.  Mrs. LaHaie oversees the RCPI, the Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Program and the National Terrorism Preparedness Institute.   She has invited Dr. Fernandez to several college meetings that have provided him direct contact with President Carl Kuttler, Jr.  During these meetings, some of which have been related to international gang problems, the partnership evolved and the overwhelming need for more training throughout the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico became evident.

PR cops 2009Due to this new partnership and the donation of equipment, the PRTI has currently been working on opening satellite training centers throughout the Island.  In June, to celebrate the grand opening of the Caribbean SPC-PRTI satellite at Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, Mrs. LaHaie, along with Dr. Philip Lyons, Executive Director of Texas Regional Center for Policing Innovation and Mrs. Lynda Leventis-Wells, Executive Director, Carolinas Institute for Community Policing, were invited to the Island to participate.  The agenda included the opening of the satellite training center on the western side of the beautiful Caribbean Island, better known as the Enchanted Island of Puerto Rico. Dr. Fernandez coordinated meetings and the grand opening events with the collaboration of the Municipality of Cabo Rojo.

PR celebrationThe Cabo Rojo Satellite inauguration was full of special events and activities where every special guest and the community celebrated this important accomplishment. Upon arrival at the City Hall of Cabo Rojo, the welcoming committee was waiting at the main lobby with photographers, media, Government Officials, Cabo Rojo staff, Cabo Rojo Municipal Police Commissioner, among others.  A Government Official Proclamation for SPC’s President Kuttler and signed by the City Mayor of Cabo Rojo, Honorable Persa Rodriguez, was accepted by Eileen LaHaie on his behalf.  The distinguished visitors received a historical briefing, Cabo Rojo tour with police escort, Cabo Rojo Light House tour and El Combate tour.   The community welcomed everyone with a Folkloric Dance Performance at the entrance of one of the SPC-PRTI community site locations. It was a great experience where they expressed their gratitude for the establishment of this unique satellite training center.

Library PR 2009Mrs. LaHaie, Dr. Lyons and Mrs. Leventis-Wells participated in a variety of professional meetings to include the U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Puerto Rico and SPC-PRTI San Juan Satellite at San Juan Police Department. The U.S. Attorney’s Office Staff and his Law Enforcement Coordinator, Mrs. Limary Llovet, received a comprehensive briefing on SPC, and what RCPIs can do for their law enforcement community in the Island in terms of training and technical assistance. They were very impressed with the quality and quantity of training and technical assistance in which they can participate through the presence of these SPC-PRTI satellites to include on-line courses from the Multijurisdictional Counterdrug Task Force Training (MCTFT), National Terrorism Preparedness Institute (NTPI), Regional Community Policing Institute (RCPI) and academic courses at St. Petersburg College as well as possible training initiatives with the Carolina and Texas RCPIs. The SPC-PRTI Cabo Rojo Satellite will conduct a special MCTFT training on Drug Identification on September 24, 2009, open to law enforcement and community.

For more information feel free to contact Dr. Fernandez at 787-286-7979 or instlei@hotmail.com.

PR trip 2009

PR group pic 2009

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