CITY HALL — Plans for a state-of-the-art $95 million training facility for Chicago police and fire recruits advanced Wednesday after winning the endorsement of a key city panel.
While the Chicago Plan Commission unanimously approved the plan to buy the 30-acre site at 4301 W. Chicago Ave. in Garfield Park for $9.6 million, a coalition of groups rallied outside Mayor Rahm Emanuel's fifth-floor City Hall office urging that the plan be shelved and the money spent on schools and community redevelopment efforts.
Monica Trinidad, a member of the People’s Response Team, which is part of the "No Cop Academy" effort, said the money would be better spent on restoring cuts made to Chicago Public Schools' budgets or reopening mental health clinics closed by Emanuel.
"We aren't falling for Rahm's charade," Trinidad said. "Don't expand CPD when we are strangled in our own communities."
About $20 million from the sale of the Goose Island Fleet and Facilities operations center will be used to buy the long-vacant land in the 37th Ward and start construction on the state-of-the-art facility.
With the backing of Emanuel, the City Council is expected in October to finalize the sale of the North Branch property for $104.7 million to Sterling Bay.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel examines the plans in August for the new $95 million training facility for Chicago police and fire recruits. [City of Chicago]
The training facility will include two buildings, including one for classrooms, labs, simulators, conference rooms, an auditorium and offices.
The other building is slated to include a shooting range and space for “active scenario training and a dive training pool.” The campus will also include a driving course, skid pad and and a place for "hands-on practice in real-world situations."
The first responders school 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 facility will replace the 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.
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.