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National Police 'School' in the Works in Texas


April 23, 2002
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National Police 'School' in the Works in Texas

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 School shootings.

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 situation.

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 people dead.

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 consequences."

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 received.

"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 criminal justice.

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.

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.




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