CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Corpus Christi Police Department (CCPD) is getting ready to break ground on a new 34,000-square-foot-training facility. They’ve been in their current facility off of Corona Drive since 1981.
“It was originally an indoor firing range for private industry for the community to use. So, we have had to work around that initial build,” said Deputy Chief Billy Breedlove.
The city acquired the building in 1981 and it started serving as the police academy. Breedlove said from a period between the late 80's and 2010, part of the building was a police sub station.
Simply put, Breedlove said they've outgrown the space.
“Due to the size of our academies currently, that we need to fill our vacancies, we need to run two academies that overlap,” he said.
One academy class just graduated at the end of January. another is in the midst of their training.
Breedlove thinks the max number of cadets they can fit into a class is 25.
The city's growth in the last two decades has required more personnel.
"The requirements for police training have about doubled. In the 1990's when I started it was a minimum of 400 hours to train an officer. Now the state mandate is 960 and it grows every year," said Breedlove.
CCPD has had to make do with what they had, a building they needed to convert from just an indoor firing range to a full academy.
"If we were sitting in this office, there would be gun shots going outside, right next door and you couldn’t get anything done," Breedlove recalled of how things were. "You couldn’t do any instruction without hearing all these loud noises going off. Plus the smoke that the indoor range had. Later, we learned the concerns of the lead that was being produced all over in the air.”
It wasn't meant to have administrative offices, but it does. The firing range was converted to their defensive tactics room and virtual training room. The cadets have a small break room, but no true locker rooms.
There is no space for a weight room in the current academy building. That's why it's out in the garage, but has no air conditioning there. Cadets are forced to do their calisthenics in the parking lot.
“One of the best improvements that we're going to see is we do not have any shower facilities here at this academy," Breedlove said. "So, we have to work around our physical fitness training schedule where we do it at the end of the day and the cadets go home from there. Having shower facilities onsite wold give us a flexibility to have physical training at any part of the day.”
The academy isn't just ued to train the cadets. The facility also served as the place officers got their continued training every two years. The citizens Police Academy also trained there.
On Thursday, CCPD will break ground on their new two story training academy, near the new Del Mar College South Campus on Yorktown Road.
The new academy will feature things like an auditorium and two large classrooms. A new weight room will afford more training and have full locker rooms with showers.
The new building comes with rooms with specific training uses like for crime scene training, defensive tactics driving simulation and more.
Another reason the upgrades are needed are to attract more officer applicants.
"When we have potential police applicants and bring them to an outdated facility and say this is where you're going to go to the academy. And they're looking throughout Texas and other parts of the United States with updated facilities, it's something they consider," said Breedlove.
Another needed addition will be an outdoor track.
A quarter mile track and within in that is about the size of a football field where we'll be able to do all of our different calisthenics and different physical trainings," Breedlove said.
No matter the changes, Breedlove said the education and impact will remain strong.
“I just remember that first day coming into the facility and meeting my classmates, who have become lifelong friends,” he said.
Breedlove says 42 academies have come through that building with probably a few more to come before the new facility is ready.
A new police academy is possible after voters passed the issue in a previous bond.
"We really appreciate the investment they're making in their police department," said Breedlove. "As I mentioned before, the importance of training it sets the foundation for the quality of police officers in the community."
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