SAN ANTONIO — Relieved to be the first graduating class of the Southwest ISD Police Department's P.R.O.M.I.S.E. (Promise, Recidivism, Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Support and Education) program, three students are promised a second chance at life.
“The P.R.O.M.I.S.E. program is a diversion program for first-time juvenile offenders,” said Southwest ISD Police Chief Richard Palomo.
Palomo said this is the first program of its kind. For six weeks, juveniles who have committed Class A or B misdemeanor offenses or some state felonies get a chance to apply for the program.
If accepted, their first-time offenses are cleared from their records after completing the six-week program.
“We talk about what got them there and how to make better decisions. This is a structured evidence-based curriculum, so we cover peer pressure, we talk about decision-making, we talk about communication skills, we talk about career exploration,” Palomo said.
It’s offers a second chance Southwest ISD Officer Stefania Velazquez wished she had when she was growing up.
“I think if I had that program back in the day, I don’t think I would’ve gotten on the other side of the system,” Velazquez said.
Velazquez says it’s those same experiences she’s had that makes it even more important to connect with the students of Southwest ISD before it’s too late.
“I know what it’s like, holding in a lot," she said. "I know what it’s like being depressed. I know what it’s like having anxiety and going to a new school and making new friends and getting peer-pressured into making bad decisions."
The department is hoping the P.R.O.M.I.S.E. program is adopted by other school districts statewide to give more students across Texas that same chance.
“We were all young once, and we all made mistakes," Palomo said. "This program is a game-changer. It’s going to let them restart, get back on track and do something successful in life."