We have clearance, Clarence.
And just like General Douglas MacArthur once said...
I have just got back from a personal tour of the regional POLICE & FIRE ACADEMY down here on the south side of town.
Here's the link to their website
And I can truthfully say that the "WOW" factor was in full swing.
Now that may only apply to someone like me (and my background), and maybe not so much for Susie Homemaker.
I mean she wouldn't really be interested in a driving simulator, which can accommodate either a patrol cruiser cockpit module OR a fire engine cockpit module and people have gotten dizzy while taking the "sim"...or the laser weapon room that allows officer trainees to perform "stand down" protocol on suspects (they even have a paintball gun that will fire BACK at you if you're not on the ball)..or even the indoor "training house" (with movable walls) where SWAT tactics are perfected (in there they can control the lighting from daytime to ZERO visibility - better dig out those ATN-PS23-2 night goggles, gang).
Nah...she wouldn't be interested in that.
But I SURE AS HELL WAS...!
(you guys got a coffee cup so I can catch my drool?)
Got to meet some great officers there, too.
Captain Nancy Becher was my "ride" to and from the building, and I got to meet Captain (Dottie) Davis as well.
But it was Sargent Berning (14 year veteran of the department) who conducted my tour, and you can tell right from his handshake that he's good people. He fully explained and showed everything to me, and you could see he was not only proud of this marvelous facility, but DAMN proud to wear the shield!
Also got to meet Officer Jim Ritchie, who has posted here and knows me by name (uh, oh). He even called out to me when we came in. I told Captain Becher that I kinda feel like some sort of quasi-celebrity...and that's a weird feeling to be known by the officers, but at least they DON'T know me because I've warmed the back seat of ALL their cruisers while waiting my turn to become a guest of the Allen County lockup...LOL!
They have a FANTASTIC indoor shooting range as well...best I've even come across INSIDE a building!
There are NO "stall partitions"..and with good reason; there is a lot less chance of someone doing something stupid, because everyone CAN see everyone else. It's wide open, so every officer can be seen by all. And the backstop is crushed tires (3 ft. thick), with a slanted steel plate behind all that. And when I asked, Sgt. Berning told me they CAN EVEN shoot MP5s, M4s, and the .308 sniper rifle INSIDE without any collateral damage or ricochet...suh-weet!
Now I'd love to have that in MY basement, you can bet your ass.
SWAT has temporarily solved the "problem" with having to drive ALL the way up to Auburn, Indiana to shoot OUTDOORS (and pay a fee for doing so). One of the officers has a relative that has a snotload of acres "somewhere close by" where they CAN practice their tactics, as well as door breaching using explosives..and nobody complains. A real "win-win" for the team.
At the academy, there is also an indoor theater (with stage) where the opening ceremonies were held, a TOTAL fitness room (that would make American Fitness green with envy). The fitness room is not just for the casual "bulk maintenance" of the officers, but serves as a platform to recuperation of officers on the disabled list.
And yes, they have a robotics office (no..B.O.B. is kept at the old academy) in conjunction with the Navy.
Bernie Beiers office is on the 2nd floor, so we know that Homeland Security is well represented. EVen got to meet Officer Roy Sutphin, the "Q" of the building (that's Quartermaster, people...when you need weapons, he's the "go-to" guy).
Got to visit the equipment room, the simunitions room (and yes, Sgt. Berning already knows about the shotgun taser XREP rounds...in case you were wondering. He IS the TASER instructor, so we shared "being zapped" stories...he with a TASER, and me with B+ voltage working on T-Comm caps), and even passed the break room (hey, what's an officer without his/her morning "joe"...with extra sugars, huh?), because we ALL know that training IS hard work, no matter how you protect the public.
They've got def-tac training (that's hand-to-hand for your neophytes), a freakin' HUGE gymnasium with 4 basketball courts, and volleyball facilities (hey Fairplay...check this out) with a damn nice rubberized flooring that will definitely cut down on stress-related foot injuries. I remarked that it was like my high school gym...only A LOT TALLER!
Like I said...it's not for everybody, but if you know (or care) ANYTHING about police/fire/or weapons training (sims or not)...this is quite literally some fine money outlaid for some of the best training we could possible hope for in Indiana.
Now...about that OUTDOOR facility we could use...
OK, OK...easy now.
And to all those I met today, as well as all the other local heroes in uniform...
Stay safe out there...
And do have a great weekend.