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FEATURE: New police chief focuses on training officers, improving campus outreach

FEATURE: New police chief focuses on training officers, improving campus outreach

By Mireilly Gonzalez
Managing Editor
Published Tuesday, March 21, 2023

About seven months into her tenure as TAMIU’s new police chief, Cordelia G. Perez focuses on officer training and improving community outreach. She started the leadership position on Aug. 1, 2022.

Recently, she collaborated with Border Patrol to train her officers on fingerprinting.

Chief Cordelia Perez
Mireilly Gonzalez | Bridge
TAMIU Police Department Chief Cordelia Perez

“We’ve [started to work] very closely with other agencies like Laredo PD, federal agencies like the FBI, the [Drug Enforcement Agency], and the [Webb County] Sheriff’s Department to name just a few,” Perez said. “We’ve been able to bring two classes already, one was the basic fingerprinting school that was done by Border Patrol.”

In addition, Perez also wants to educate TAMIU’s student body about the dangers of drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 56,000 people died from overdoses involving synthetic opioids in 2020, which is more than 18 times the number in 2013.

According to KGNS, Laredo had 15 fatal drug overdoses so far this year. Additionally, the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates 106,699 drug-involved deaths in 2021.

“We’re teaming up with the DEA … [and] we’re bringing an educational type of symposium that will take place around April 6—the first week of April—and [it’s] gonna be named One Pill [Can Kill] and it deals with the fentanyl crisis in our community,” Perez said.

The public awareness campaign from the DEA, One Pill Can Kill, began in 2021 and addresses the rise of fake prescription pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine.

TAMIU PD officers group photo
Mireilly Gonzalez | Bridge
TAMIU Police Department members pose for a group shot with Chief Cordelia Perez, center, on March 8.

Although Laredo was named one of the safest cities in the country by a study from WalletHub last year, local representatives voiced concern about the recent rise of fentanyl-related deaths. The city addressed the problem by planning to open a detox facility in July 2023.

“When we saw the increase of these deaths that were taking place in our community, we needed to do a two-pronged approach: information to our community as well as the investigative side,” Laredo Police Chief Claudio Treviño told The Laredo Morning Times. “We’re working with different nonprofits and agencies to help put out the message to those drug users in the community. The concern is that recreational or experimental drug users, which are the younger population, might get into using drugs that might be laced with this fentanyl that is killing our [residents]. It is a high risk because we are finding it in everything.”

Another of Perez’s recent TAMIU’s campus projects is to continue officer training, as well as forming a closer relationship between students and UPD.

“The community here at TAMIU is you, the students,” Perez said. “It’s the faculty and staff. That interchange of information is extremely important. I can’t be everywhere all the time. And so for you to pick up the phone and call us, and for you to be comfortable to do that—that’s what my goal is. For you to be able to pick up the phone and let us know, ‘Hey, here by this particular building this is going on.’ You know? And we’ll respond.”

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