Three top executives at the Houston Police Department rose through the ranks in the U.S.’s fourth largest city with the help of a 100 Club Scholarship program started right here at Sam Houston State University.
Chief of Staff Martha Montalvo, Executive Assistant Chief George Buenik, and Assistant Chief M.D. Slinkard credit the scholarships with allowing them to continue their education and, as a result, to move to top positions in the agency.
Houston Police Chief of Staff Martha Montalvo“It helped me tremendously,” said Martha Montalvo, one of four Executive Assistant Chiefs at the Houston Police Department. “I had a growing family and if it had not been for the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to continue my education. We had a lot of other responsibilities.”
During the last quarter century, the 100 Club funded 720 scholarships for active police officers and supervisors as well as criminal justice students – many of them at the College of Criminal Justice.
One of the recent student scholarship recipients was Frank Mosca, who received the Howard Moon Scholarship in 2013 and is now working as an officer with U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Nogales, Arizona. He was grateful to the organization that helped him pursue his dream of becoming a federal agent, that continues to protect officers with specialized equipment and that supports families of officers killed in the line of duty.
Mosca was among the 100 Club scholarship recipients in 2013.“I felt very honored to have received a 100 Club scholarship,” said Mosca. “It is a very prestigious organization.”
Originally founded in 1953 by 100 men, who each contributed $100 to assist families of fallen law enforcement officers, the organization later expanded its offerings to fund life-saving equipment for law enforcement agencies and scholarships for officers to further their education in criminal justice. Today, there are more than 30,000 members who contributed $42 million to dependents, equipment and scholarships. The organization, which covers 18 counties in Texas, initially collaborated with Sam Houston State University to offer those educational opportunities, and later expanded the program to two other Texas universities.
Rick Hartley accepts an award on behalf of the 100 Club from the FBI in 2012.“The end result has been a win-win,” said Rick Hartley, Executive Director of the 100 Club. “If an officer becomes management or part of leadership, they are better stewards of taxpayer money and they have better-run agencies.”
The 100 Club offers a limited number of full scholarship in criminal justice annually -- both undergraduate and graduate -- to law enforcement officers serving in state, county or municipal department in Angelina, Austin, Brazoria, Brazos, Burleson, Chambers, Colorado, Fayette, Fort Bend, Galveston, Grimes, Harris, Liberty, Madison, Montgomery, San Jacinto, Walker, Waller and Washington counties. The candidates apply and are accepted after meeting the eligibility requirements at each college.
“I think it has had a positive impact,” said Hartley. “Many of these graduates have gone up into full management position and have had a pretty strong impact on their agencies.”
In addition, like many other professionals, management position in law enforcement require advanced degrees. “It provides a ticket to move up,” Hartley said.
SHSU student scholarship recipients from 2014.The 100 Club also offers endowed scholarships to more than a dozen outstanding criminal justice students at the college annually who are planning to join the field. Those scholarships were created to honor past chairmen of the organization.
Montalvo said the weekend master’s program at SHSU helped her in so many ways.
“It was a good program that exposed me to other law enforcement individuals from across the state,” she said. “It has very comprehensive classes that help me understand policies not only at the local level, but nationally. Also, the statistics classes helped me write proposals, and it upped my game and prepared me for the things I would do down the road.”
Montalvo also built valuable friendships.
“We had a lot of chiefs from other police departments,” said Montalvo. “There was a lot of discussion of issues, but I also learned a lot from just listening.”
Executive Assistant Chief George BuenikOriginally from Chicago, Buenik chose Houston because it was a growing department with lots of opportunities for advancement. As a father of two young girls in 1990, the 100 Club helped him to get back into graduate school just as he began studying for his Captain’s promotional exam.
“I think studying and going back to school helped me get good study skills and helped with the Captain’s exam,” said Buenik. “It helped me to understand the concepts and was an advantage for promotions in my career. I learned leadership and management skills as well as statistics and budget, which help me as a manager.”
In September, Buenik was promoted to Executive Assistant Chief in charge of Strategic Operations, including Airports, Special Operations, Air Support, Criminal Intelligence, the Tactical Units for SWAT, Bombs and Hostage Negotiations, Professional Development, Recruiting and Employee and Staff Services.
Assistant Chief M.D. SlinkardUnder his command is Assistant Chief M.D. Slinkard, who handles the Homeland Security component. Slinkard received his bachelor’s degree at Sam Houston State University and knew the importance of education in the law enforcement field. Through the 100 Club, he too enrolled in the master’s weekend program.
“It was a great opportunity,” said Slinkard. “I was able to make the commute on weekends and the school and the 100 Club made it possible to accomplish it.”
“While the bachelor’s program gave me the basics to operate as a police officer on the streets, it didn’t allow us to step back and look at the history of policing or to think about the future of planning on how to better manage police resources,” Slinkard said. “It provided the proper amount of policy and theory and challenged you to think a little differently.”