SAN MARCOS,TEXAS— A $500,000 grant from the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division will provide training for more than 600 Texas police officers at a rapid response training center currently under construction in San Marcos.
Construction began in June on the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training (ALERRT) Center near the San Marcos Municipal Airport and, center organizers say the first phase of construction should be complete in late August.
The ALERRT Center is a partnership of Southwest Texas State University, the city of San Marcos Police Department, the Hays county Sheriff’s Office, Gary Job Corps, Prairie View A&M University, the Texas School Safety Center, the Texas Tactical Police Officers Association and Wackenhutt Corrections Corp.
|Supporters and sponsors of the new ALERRT Center attend a news conference regarding construction on the facilities at Gary Job Corps in San Marcos.|
Initial funding for the center came from a grant of $485,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice, and the additional $500,000 from the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division will fund training for the first wave of officers.
“The Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center has the potential to be one of the premiere training institutions in the nation,” said Gov. Rick Perry. we want to make sure Texas officers are first in line to make use of this new facility.
The ALERRT Center will specialize in helping officers learn the most effective ways to assess, handle and diffuse crisis situations, such as the 1991 shootings at a Luby’s cafeteria in Killeen or the 1999 Columbine shootings in Colorado.
When all phases of construction are complete, the center will include a computerized weapons simulator facility, a tactical firearms training center, a multi-story structure that simulates an office building or school, a rappel tower and a live-fire house.
“The ALERRT Center will focus on training for the police officers and deputies who patrol our neighborhoods and will be the first to respond to terrorist acts and violent crimes in progress in our communities,” said San Marcos Police Sgt. Terry Nichols, one of the organizers of the center.
Nichols said the idea for the ALERRT Center was first discussed in the wake of the Columbine shootings. At Columbine, he said, livers were lost because the initial responding police officers were trained to establish a perimeter and wait for SWAT teams.
“The face of violent crime is changing. We’re seeing more and more instances where the goal of the criminals is to take as many lives as possible as quickly as possible. Experience has shown us that, without proper training, many officers will freeze or fail to act in situations like that. Failure to act can have tragic consequences,” said Nichols.
Key support for the initial federal funding came from U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.
“I am pleased to learn of Gov. Perry’s support and the state’s decision to join our federal efforts to bring funding to ALERRT,” said Paul. “I look forward to continued cooperative efforts between the Center and state and federal officials in providing top-notch training for those who will be called upon to respond when disasters occur in Texas.”