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Students learn law enforcement skills for competition (w/video)

By Bianca Montes
March 26, 2014 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 26, 2014 at 10:27 p.m.

Omar Garcia acts out a high-risk traffic stop scenario Wednesday afternoon. Garcia and fellow classmate Jacob Caballero will represent District 12 on Thursday at the SkillsUSA competition.

Jacob Caballero, a Victoria East High School senior, sat in the belly of his white Ford Mustang, gun drawn.

He had no idea what dangers loomed in the Chevrolet Impala pulled over in front of him. With one leg firmly planted on the ground outside the vehicle and the door shielding his body, he bellowed, "This is the police department - you are all under arrest. You are all considered armed and dangerous."

One by one, he and his partner, 19-year-old Omar Garcia, subdued three suspects from the vehicle - one who was armed.

The two students were demonstrating a felony traffic stop for officers from the Victoria Police Department on Wednesday afternoon to garner feedback before heading off to compete in a statewide competition.

SkillsUSA, a partnership of students, teachers and industry, works to empower a skilled workforce. It will host a statewide championship in Corpus Christi on Thursday.

Caballero and Garcia will represent District 12.

Officers attended two days of training with the students in which they critiqued them on style and delivery.

Field training officer Adam Garcia of the Victoria Police Department said he was beyond impressed with the skills demonstrated.

"You never know what we'll face in this line of work, and there are always areas to improve," Garcia said. "But they were like sponges, soaking up everything."

Both students are taking law enforcement classes with the school district's career and technical education program.

The law enforcement course, which is offered to students in their sophomore, junior or senior year of school, offers introductory and advanced classes in the field as well as a practicum in law enforcement course in which students work on a capstone project.

Course instructor Cris Pruitt said it's impressive how hard both students have worked to achieve their goals, and that if they do well, both should be able to make it to nationals.

"This is what I want to do - this is what I've always wanted to do," Omar Garcia said. "I want to be on the street. I want to be that role model."

Garcia said he plans to enroll in the police academy as soon as he is old enough.

Caballero echoed his sentiments.

The classes, they said, will prepare them for that step.

The competition gives them that extra push.

"I love helping people and making everything safer," Caballero said. "I love that it shows a man can follow the rules and still make a living."

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