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New $95 Million Police, Fire Training Academy Planned For Garfield Park

By Heather Cherone | July 3, 2017 8:51am | Updated on July 6, 2017 11:47am
 The new police and fire training facility would be built in Garfield Park under a proposal unveiled Monday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
The new police and fire training facility would be built in Garfield Park under a proposal unveiled Monday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
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City of Chicago

GARFIELD PARK — Chicago police and fire recruits would be trained on a state-of-the-art $95 million campus under a proposal unveiled Monday by Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

The new campus is designed to address serious concerns outlined by the U.S. Justice Department in its investigation of the Chicago Police Department that found officers graduate from the five-month academy "unprepared to police lawfully and effectively."

The new 30.4-acre facility at 4301 W. Chicago Ave. will allow police officers and firefighters to "receive specialized, scenario-based training, get hands-on practice in real-world situations and improve collaboration in emergency response," according to a statement from the mayor's office.

"Our first responders deserve the best training to take on the challenges they face every day, and they deserve the best facility to learn and practice in," Emanuel said. "Chicago's new Public Safety Training Academy will provide a much needed overhaul of the over 40-year-old training facilities currently used, and allow police officers, firefighters and paramedics to receive training based on the nation's best practices."

The new facility will replace the current police training academy at 1300 W. Jackson Blvd., built in 1976; the Fire Prevention training facility at 1010 S. Clinton St., built in 1950; and the Fire Academy South at 1338 S. Clinton St., built in 1965, officials said.

Construction is scheduled to start in 2018 and take at least two years to complete, officials said. The mayor's office did not say how the facility would be financed.

Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) said the construction of the new facility on long-vacant land would breathe life into Garfield Park, one of the city's most violent neighborhoods.

"The thousands of first-responders reporting there for training every day will not only drive economic and community development throughout the neighborhood, but also add a big public safety presence to our streets, giving children and families more confidence as they travel about their lives," Mitts said.

In addition to a main building that will feature classrooms and administrative offices, a second building will feature a pool to be used to train for water rescues as well as a shooting range. The campus will also include a driving course, a skid pad and place for "hands-on practice in real-world situations."

The main building also will include labs, simulators, conference rooms and an auditorium.

"The scenario training is exactly what CPD needs to give our officers the best hands-on training possible so they can react appropriately in the field regardless of the situation," Chicago Police Supt. Eddie Johnson said.

In the next two years, Emanuel has promised to add 970 positions to the Police Department: 516 police officers, 200 detectives, 112 sergeants, 50 lieutenants and 92 field training officers. The department also plans to fill 500 vacant positions.