SAN ANTONIO (Associated Press) - More than 2,500 police are
expected to be trained each year at a national center
in Central Texas where law officers would learn how to
react properly to events like the Columbine High
Construction on the multimillion-dollar Advanced
Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center is
expected to begin in June. It would be built on a
196-acre site near the San Marcos Airport.
The center is a partnership of Southwest Texas
State University, the San Marcos Police Department,
the Hays County Sheriff's Office, Prairie View A&M
University, the Texas Tactical Police Officers
Association and other groups.
Officials are designing a curriculum that will help
patrol officers respond appropriately no matter what
The idea for the facility came after the April 20,
1999, attack in Littleton, Colo., by Columbine
students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold that left 14
At Columbine, lives may have been lost because the
first police officers who responded were trained to
establish a perimeter and wait for SWAT teams, said
San Marcos Police Sgt. Terry Nichols, who is helping
plan the training center.
"The face of violent crime is changing," Nichols
told the San Antonio Express-News in Tuesday's
editions. "We are seeing more and more instances where
the goal of the criminal is to take as many lives as
possible as quickly as possible. Experience has shown
us that without proper training, many officers will
freeze or fail to act in situations like that. Failing
to act, or even hesitating to act, can have tragic
Initial funding for the center came from a $485,000
federal grant. Organizers are seeking a $500,000 state
grant, although they said they can get the project off
the ground with the funds they have already
"When you have these horrendous events like a
Columbine or a 9-11, you can't make things up on an ad
hoc basis," said Tom Mijares, SWTSU professor of
They hope to have the first 500 officers trained by
the end of the year, then at least 50 officers a week
completing a three-to five-day course after that.
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The goal is to raise $6 million total for the first
three years of the center's operation, said Quint
Thurman, chairman of the Department of Criminal
Justice at SWTSU. After that, he thinks the center
will be self-sufficient through fee-based training
courses and funded research projects.