Chicago Plans New Fire and Police Training Academy

The existing Police Academy was built in 1976, the city's fire prevention training facility was constructed in 1950, and the Fire Academy South was developed in 1965.

The city of Chicago will build a state-of-the-art public safety training academy in the West Garfield Park neighborhood, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said July 3. The plan is to build the academy on 30.4 acres of vacant land located at 4301 W. Chicago Ave.; the facility will allow first responders to receive specialized training and receive hands-on practice in realistic situations.

"Our first responders deserve the best training to take on the challenges they face every day, and they deserve best facility to learn and practice in," Emanuel said. "Chicago's new Public Safety Training Academy will provide much needed overhaul to 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 existing Police Academy was built in 1976, the city's fire prevention training facility was constructed in 1950, and the Fire Academy South was developed in 1965.

"In addition to the improved classrooms, I'm very excited about the indoor and outdoor scenario training that will be available at the new Public Safety Training Academy," said Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. "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."

The plans include two buildings to house classrooms, labs, simulators, conference rooms, an auditorium, and administrative offices. The secondary building will include a shooting range, space for active scenario training, and a dive training pool, while outdoor site improvements will include a driving course, skid pad, and space for active scenario training. "The reality is that the Fire Department and the Police Department jointly respond to incidents every day," said Fire Commissioner Jose Santiago. "The new Public Safety Training Academy will allow fire and police personnel to train together so both departments know their roles during a response and are prepared to fulfill those roles without hesitation and in the most professional manner possible."

The vacant property is currently privately held, and the city is performing its due diligence in anticipation of closing on the property by early 2018. Construction is planned to begin in 2018 and last for up to 36 months; total estimated cost for the proposed academy, including land acquisition, is $95 million, and the city will work with the Chicago Infrastructure Trust to select a developer to design, build, and finance the project.

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