With a snip of enormous scissors, Mayor Nutter, Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, and other top city officials Thursday inaugurated a new police training center in Northeast Philadelphia that they hope will go a long way to create a force for this era.
The $15.5 million "state-of-the-art" facility at 2838 Woodhaven Rd. centralizes some of the force's key units, including the Training and Education Services Bureau, Advance Training Unit, and the Standards and Accountability Bureau. It will provide officers with new training, including reality-based training.
The technology creates "scenarios that challenge their judgment," Ramsey said. The center will also offer new courses in topics like de-escalation, fair and impartial policing, and problem solving.
In March, an audit on department's use of deadly force conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice recommended officers be given more "scenario-based training . . . where the students can practically exercise de-escalation skills in a real setting."
The 78,000-square-foot building with bleached brick walls, fluorescent lights, and slick gray tiles would seem to have the space to do just that. It has the space to simultaneously train 300 recruits and 400 veteran service officers, and can accommodate 160 full-time staffers. It triples the capacity of the current training center at 8501 State Rd.
While construction began in May 2014, the project has been "long on the radar screen," Nutter said. The city began acquiring the property nearly eight years ago.
"So we do it slowly, but we get it right," said Deputy Mayor Everett Gillison, Nutter's chief of staff.
"It's just a breath of fresh air," said FOP president John McNesby. "It does help morale to be able to come into a place where it's air conditioned, where you have a clean desk, to be able to do your work and to learn and to make sure that the community is safe."
Mayor Nutter added: "Our brave police officers deserve nothing less than the best in training and facilities that we can offer them."