Gov. Bob Riley joined legislators, Alabama State Troopers and Wallace Community College-Selma administrators to break ground on a new Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center on Friday.
Riley said the training for state troopers is already top notch, but the new center can help enhance an already strong program.
“This new facility will bring improved training and housing for new recruits within both the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Corrections,” Riley said. “It will provide a positive environment to mold and produce the very best state troopers and correctional officers for the state of Alabama.”
The six-building complex at WCCS will cover 100,000 square feet when completed.
“Training is key to professionalism in law enforcement,” said Department of Public Safety Director Col. J. Christopher Murphy. “Once completed this new training academy will support and enhance our commitment to providing the highest level of training for our troopers and all other DPS staff members.”
The current training center is based at Craig Field in buildings dating back to 1950 with poor heat and air conditioning and a condemned gymnasium.
“Every year I get the call that they are going to try to move the [training center] from Selma,” Sen. Hank Sanders said. “Well, with the $26 million investment I don’t think I’ll have to answer anymore calls like that.”
That investment will help not only Selma and soon-to-be officers, but also WCCS.
“We are building bridges at Wallace,” President Dr. James Mitchell said. “Now we have two more partners. Before the criminal justice program was floundering here, but not after the $26 million boost.”
Murphy earlier accompanied about 20 state legislators on a trip to Craig Field that helped stress the need for new buildings.
“[The legislators] saw the gym, the dirty water and even ate at the cafeteria,” Murphy said. “They left with a new sense of the dire situation.”
Alabama Speaker of the House Seth Hammett felt the building would strengthen the class of officers that Selma produces.
“I am happy now because the quality of the facility will equal the quality of the graduates,” he said.
The complex is set for completion Oct. 1, 2010, and will feature a fitness center, dining hall, two dormitories and two academic buildings.
Montgomery-based Seay, Seay & Litchfield architectural firm designed the building, and White-Spunner Construction Inc. of Mobile is the contractors.
Economic Development Authority Director Wayne Vardaman said the new complex would benefit Selma’s revenue.
“I’ve been hearing for seven years that the training center might be moving to Anniston or somewhere else,” he said. “This shows it is here to stay and we won’t have to worry about the issue. The building will also help us economically. The buildings will attract more people from around the state to come in and train, which means more people buying things in Selma.”
The new Alabama Criminal Justice Training Center is a result of hard work and collaboration and from that everyone will benefit.
“Gov. Riley always encourages his Cabinet to find ways to work together to get good things done for the state,” said Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Richard Allen. “Under his leadership, this training academy, conceived by Col. Chris Murphy, advanced by Chancellor Bradley Byrne, and strongly supported by Sen. Hank Sanders, will make Alabama safer in the years to come.”