Sep 28, 2017
As president of the Hispanic American Police Command Officers Association (HAPCOA), Trinity University Police Chief Paul Chapa took steps to create the organization’s first international chapter in Panama three years ago.
Since then, the law enforcement friendship has blossomed. In February of this year, Chief Chapa traveled to Panama on the invitation of the director of the Panamanian National Police to be recognized for his commitment to professionalism in law enforcement. Omar Pinzon, director of the Panamanian National Police, presented Chapa with the Medalla de la Policia Nacional—a tremendous honor. Chapa also met with the director of the Panamanian Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Ovidio Fuentes, who sought assistance in training regarding firearm forensics and national and state weapons policies and procedures.
Less than six months later, Chapa hosted an international delegation to sign agreements to train and educate the Panamanian National Police Force in firearms forensics and national and state weapons policies and procedures.
At a ceremony July 21 at IACLEA member institution Trinity University, law enforcement officials called “historic” the four agreements signed between the government of Panama and the Trinity University Police Department, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, the San Antonio Police Department, and the Judson Independent School District Police Department (all Texas agencies).
“In law enforcement, partnership is key to everything we do, whether it’s a two-man unit patrolling the streets, or the SWAT team working to rid our city and county streets of drugs and guns,” said Bexar County Sheriff Javier Salazar, who signed the agreement as the fourth vice president and future president of HAPCOA.
San Antonio Police Chief William McManus added, “Never did I think our partnerships would extend beyond the borders of our local region, beyond Bexar County, and beyond the borders of the United States. It’s exciting today to sign a memorandum of understanding with our partners in Panama.”
Signing the documents in English and Spanish on behalf of Panama was the country’s Vice Minister of Public Safety Jonattan Del Rosario, who said Panama has made great strides in curbing violent crime but welcomes the agreements with the four US agencies to continue moving forward in a cooperative spirit. “Rest assured, in Panama, you will always find a key partner and true friend,” he said.
Chapa said the two police agencies face the same safety challenges and stand to benefit from the alliance. He said the next step is for the agencies to schedule training sessions.
“I would like to thank IACLEA for having the vision to look outside our borders in order to share our experiences and resources and also to further extend our knowledge in global challenges that impact our profession,” said Chapa who also serves as Trinity’s Assistant Vice President, Enterprise Risk Management.
Presiding over the ceremony was HAPCOA Executive Director Anthony Chapa, Paul Chapa’s brother. Attendees included Panamanian Ambassador Juan Sosa, Consul General, who is based in Houston; U.S. Ambassador Oliver P. Garza; Retired Army Major General Freddy Valenzuela; and four officials of the Panamanian National Police.
This article is based on an article by Susie P. Gonzalez, senior manager of public relations at Trinity University. She can be reached at email@example.com or @susiegonz.