City and county leaders and law enforcement officials on Friday unveiled the new joint Law Enforcement Training Center on Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus.
The $10 million facility has a gym, dispatch training room, crime simulation room and mock holding cell--similar to the building that the Sedgwick County Sheriff's Office and Wichita Police Department currently share. But the new training center is a major improvement over the aging building it's replacing.
"It’s a very big step," says Sgt. J.D. Anderson of the Sheriff's Office. "It’s a lot nicer than what we’ve got now.”
Anderson has been on the force for 14 years, and has led training for the past four.
"Everything is more modern-day," he says. "It'll be a lot better for the recruits in the long run."
Speaking to a crowd at the dedication ceremony Friday morning, Sedgwick County Commission Chair Dave Unruh said law enforcement officers have been working under conditions that "might be considered an embarrassment to our community, and an insult to those who have to train there."
The city and county have partnered on training programs for more than 30 years, sharing a former elementary school building in northwest Wichita. They formally announced plans to build the new training center in 2016. Wichita State's criminal justice program will also share the space.
"We're hoping that it will ... potentially [bring] new students for WSU, as well as new recruits for the law enforcement agencies that work here," said Andi Bannister, interim director of the newly renamed School of Criminal Justice.
Sheriff Jeff Easter said he's most excited about working with WSU.
"Currently right now in law enforcement, as you well know, we have a hard time finding recruits, we have hard time getting people to apply," he said. "So we truly believe that the collaboration with WSU is going to enhance that for both agencies. And I’m sure we’ll fight over the same people, but we do that now.”
The center will be open for students and recruits later this month.
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