A new 40,000-square-foot training facility will help ensure that the St. Paul, Minn., Police Department gets the most rigorous, up-to-date training available.
It’s been a long time coming, but the department officially unveiled its new $18 million facility, Oct. 31, that will house the trainings that the department has undertaken recently, including efforts that help defuse conflict and provide police with the tools to deal with bias and employ proper strategies when dealing with people with mental illness.
The two-story building is equipped with a new gun range with 12 lanes instead of the six in the old building, five breakout rooms that with moveable walls can be reconfigured into fewer larger rooms or more smaller rooms, a technology room with laptops, virtual training, and even different-sized windows, such as storefront windows for training purposes. A large classroom can hold up to 10 people or it can be divided into two classrooms with the moveable walls.
“One day it might look a certain way and the next week we can set it up to look entirely different, so our officers never really know what it’s going to look like, said Cmdr. Stacy Murphy. “We have different lighting conditions, we can pipe in noise, like crowd noise, we can drive a vehicle in there to simulate traffic stops.”
The building was made to be durable and easily cleaned so that simunition, non-lethal ammo like a paint ball gun, can be used. “Our whole facility is multipurposed,” Murphy said. “We can use it for anything we want, crisis intervention training, de-escalation training.”
Murphy said the department had been trying to get a new building for about a decade and finally, out of necessity, it happened. The city decided to use the old building for something different and the new building materialized — and none too soon.
The old building was literally falling apart. Ceiling tiles were falling in and the place was so small that hand-to-hand training couldn’t be conducted without arranging everything in the building.
“Our last building didn’t meet our needs,” Murphy said. “The gun range was way too small and broke down a lot. A lot of times we had to rent or find other spaces for training because the facility didn’t accommodate what we wanted to do.”
The department has 620 officers, including 11 training staff and five range staff. The new building is about a mile from police headquarters.
The community has a taken great interest recently in the training of the department and one group, along with a district council, passed resolutions that urge a training focus on diffusing conflict and continuing a community-based approach.
The department has been undergoing crisis intervention training for years and the new facility will make it more efficient.
The giant screens of the Ti Training simulation allow for a multitude of scenarios to be played out in a multitude of rooms. The scenarios put officers in judgment-based training where the decision to shoot or not is a split-second one.