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Government

Sedgwick County Defers Decision On Law Enforcement Training Center

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Sedgwick County Commissioners are putting off a decision on a new law enforcement training center for at least another week.

The commissioners want to hold a special meeting with the City of Wichita to go over the broader issue of public safety partnerships before they decide on a proposal for a new law enforcement training center.

They spent about an hour and a half on the issue at their Wednesday meeting, but in the end, voted 4-1 to continue the discussion next week. Commissioner Tim Norton voted against the motion, saying “it’s time to move forward” because the city and county have been researching options for nearly two decades.

Commission Chairman Jim Howell wants to include training options for the county’s firefighters in the discussion.

"Let’s me just say, if we have a partnership to solve our other training needs, I think it might be a great recommendation, he says. "But short of that, we might need that cash to go solve this problem another way."

Howell says that with four proposals on the table, they’re closer than ever to coming to an agreement on a joint training center.

"It’s just not as easy to pick one off the page," Howell said. "I think there’s a lot more to this than just simply saying we’re going to just accept this without understanding exactly how we got here and whether this is the best we can do and other issues that are similar to it."

Norton and Commissioner Dave Unruh are against the idea of a broader discussion of public safety with city officials, and they don’t think other issues such as fire training should be tied to the law enforcement training center project.

The county’s Bid Board has made its recommendation: a $9.5 million state-of-the-art training facility to be built on Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus.

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell announced his support for the WSU proposal in early March. It also has the backing of the police and sheriff’s departments.

The WSU proposal was not the lowest bid under consideration. Some commissioners and a local developer questioned the process that went into the Bid Board’s recommendation.

City and county officials worked together on creating the request for proposals (RFP) for the new training center last year. The county issued the RFP and accepted bids through the end of November. County officials say only the county commissioners will actually vote on the proposals because the county was the entity to issue the RFP.

The Kansas Board of Regents and other state entities will have to approve any facility built on the WSU campus.

The county faces a May 18 deadline to make a decision on the current proposals, or file what would be a second extension in the process.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar

 

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