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Geraldine J. Garcia
Geraldine J. Garcia at the UTSA Downtown Campus

Commencement Close-up: Geraldine J. Garcia

By Alison Beshur
Public Affairs Specialist

(May 12, 2006)--Before Geraldine J. Garcia enrolled in classes at UTSA, she already had more than 20 years experience patrolling and battling crime with the San Antonio Police Department.

She had worked covert narcotics investigations, supervised sting operations of the vice -- gambling, liquor, prostitution -- unit, directed officers in the apprehension of those wanted in more than a dozen murder cases, located 15 high-profile gang members responsible for numerous violent crimes, and reared two sons.

On Saturday, May 13, the 50-year-old captain in the San Antonio Police Department will add another accomplishment to her long list of achievements when she graduates with a master's degree in justice policy.

"I have been very fortunate in my career," Garcia said.

Garcia said her course work at UTSA has broadened her perspective of police work.

"I came here with the enforcement perspective," Garcia said. "But now, I have a better understanding of the theories of causation, restorative justice and the idea that the criminal justice field would benefit from an understanding of what works and what doesn't."

"Punishment isn't always the answer," added Garcia, who earned a bachelor's degree in 2004 from Wayland Baptist University. "Sometimes, they (offenders) need healing."

Cynthia McCluskey, associate professor of criminal justice in the UTSA College of Public Policy, said Garcia has been an "exceptional graduate student."

"Given her background and professional experience in law enforcement, she has brought a tremendous amount to the justice policy program," McCluskey said. "She is committed to the San Antonio community and to UTSA. Her research examines local prevention programming for at-risk youth in an effort to enhance the relationship between youth and law enforcement, and ultimately reduce the likelihood of involvement with the justice system."

Garcia plans to incorporate the lessons learned at UTSA into her police work and find ways to improve community initiatives and programs for at-risk youth. She also plans to pursue higher-level leadership positions.

"It's time for Latinas in law enforcement," Garcia said. "Not everything is muscle and strength."

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