Teaching the Next Generation of Law Enforcement

SHSU Alumni Lloyd Dragoo is the new Director of the Law Enforcement Academy at Sul Ross State University.
SHSU Alumni Lloyd Dragoo is the new Director of the Law Enforcement Academy at Sul Ross State University.

Alumnus Lloyd Dragoo (MA 98) has combined his passion for law enforcement with his love of teaching in his job as Director of the Sul Ross State University Law Enforcement Academy in Alpine.

“I enjoyed law enforcement, but I enjoy teaching law enforcement more,” said Dragoo, who earned his Masters in Criminal Justice and Criminology from SHSU. “This is the pinnacle of years of education and work to run a police academy.”

Dragoo served in law enforcement as a patrol officer in such diverse agencies as the San Marcos and Dallas Police Departments. San Marcos taught him the basics of police work, and he got to work a triple homicide after several months on the job. As a police officer in South Dallas near the Cotton Bowl, he was working only 90 minutes when he caught his first shooting. In Dallas, he averaged two to three shootings or stabbings a month. A graduating class from the Law Enforcement Academy at Sul Ross State University.
A graduating class from the Law Enforcement Academy at Sul Ross State University.

“I always worked patrol,” said Dragoo. “I like the idea of every day going in fresh, without a stack of papers on my desk. I liked being out on the beat, driving around and being the first on the scene. One of the things that attracted me to law enforcement is that I wouldn’t have to sit behind a desk.”

Dragoo attended Sam Houston State University with aspirations of teaching at the college level, and after earning his Master’s degree, he taught at the high school and junior college levels in the San Antonio area.

“It certainly provided the foundation for being an educator,” said Dragoo. “It helped provide a good foundation for the police academy. I still pull from the lessons I learned at SHSU to help me make a point.”

In between his police and educator careers, Dragoo fulfilled another lifelong dream to be an officer in the military. While a Dallas police officer, he signed up for the Army Reserve and was accepted into Officer Candidates School. Upon graduation, he was called to active duty with the transportation corps in Germany.

“It was a great experience, and I still get benefits from it, literally my VA benefits,” said Dragoo. “Certainly with being a director, the Officer Candidates School helped me be a leader.” Cadets participate in PT as part of the program.
Cadets participate in PT as part of the program.

In 2002, he began teaching at the Police Academy at San Antonio College and in 2008 he was named coordinator of the Middle Rio Grande Law Enforcement Academy at Southwest Texas Junior College in Uvalde. At the time, the program had the highest failure rate in the state, with 56 of its 96 graduates failing the state peace officer exam. Under his leadership, the program turned around, with all 185 graduates passing the state exam on the first try in his first three years.

Dragoo hopes to do the same at Sul Ross State University. The Police Academy trains peace officers and correction officers for a 18 county region, which stretches from the Odessa-Midland area to El Paso. While the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education requires 618 hours for academy classes, Sul Ross offers 700 hours of training. It also offers continuing education for law enforcement and correction officers in the area.

Cadets train for correction and peace officer positions in 18 counties.
Cadets train for correction and peace officer positions in 18 counties.

“When you are running an academy, you’re an educator,” Dragoo said. “It doesn’t do any good for me to go in and tell war stories. When you are in an academy, your role is an educator, not a police officer.”

Sul Ross concentrates on small-town and rural law enforcement. Its goal is to provide a quality education at the lowest possible cost. Professionalism and a community service philosophy are stressed in all training programs.

Most of the cadets that enroll in the academy want to work in law enforcement and a few are sponsored by local departments who want to hire them. The program includes instruction on the penal code and criminal procedures, firearms training, driving instruction and the mechanics of arrest, takedown procedures and self-defense. Dragoo teaches 90 percent of the courses.

“I like being the Director, but my favorite thing is to teach because they are hungry to learn and know this is the career they want,” Dragoo said. “I have been here for three weekends and most of the cadets comes in on Saturdays and Sundays for tutoring. They have a desire to learn and they are a real good bunch of cadets.”

Member of The Texas State University System