Twelve visitors came to San Antonio from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras to take part in a program titled "Law Enforcement: Community Policing." The program covered several areas of public safety in San Antonio and it was able to provide the visitors with some hands-on experience as well.
They began by visiting the San Antonio Police Training Academy. Here, the visitors were able to learn about several innovative programs championed by the SAPD. These included the San Antonio Fear Free Environment (SAFFE) which is designed to encourage community cooperation in solving crimes, Volunteers in Policing (VIP) which enlists citizen volunteers in police efforts, and the Citizen Police Academy which trains for civilian participation in public safety. A stop at the Alamo Area Regional Law Enforcement Academy provided more information on creative conflict resolution for first responders with new tactics for defusing tense situations encountered regularly by police officers.
Learning about law enforcement and public safety from a new perspective, the visitors traveled to the SAPD Command Center and its Public Safety Answering Point where emergency calls are answered and directed to ensure swift response by appropriate emergency services.
Later, the group was divided to allow them to participate in police ride-alongs. The visitors appreciated the experiential quality of the ride-along experience and found it very useful in understanding law enforcement methods in San Antonio.
These appointments enhanced the visitors understanding of community policing programs in an urban environment and addressed respectful ways of dealing with the public and assuring the preservation of their civil rights. Ride-alongs with police officers gave a tangible understanding of San Antonio's methods for assessing the security needs of the public.