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W.Va. police academy gets new training center

The new training facility is the most recent addition to the West Virginia State Police Academy

By Ashley B. Craig
Charleston Daily Mail

Cadets training to join the ranks of the State Police and local law enforcement agencies now have a new place to get fit for duty.

The physical training center at the West Virginia State Police Academy opened for use in March to the delight of those used to doing fitness training in the academy’s old aircraft hangar. Construction on the building started last fall.

The new structure is about 12,000 square feet and houses a gymnasium and a padded room for physical combat training, a weight room and a cardio training room.

“This building has been a long time coming,” said Capt. David Lee, director of training at the academy. “Superintendents and commandants for the last 25 to 30 years have tried to get a facility like this, and we’re just very fortunate the Purdue Pharma Asset helped us finance this project.”

Troopers gave reporters a tour of the facility Tuesday.

The structure cost about $1.85 million. About $100,000 was spent on equipment.

The building is the last project to be funded by the portion of the Purdue Pharma asset settlement that was allocated to the State Police, Sgt. Michael Baylous said.

The State Police received about $44 million of the $274 million settlement reached in 2004 between federal prosecutors and Purdue Pharma, the makers of Oxycontin.

Lee said a large part of the State Police’s portion of the asset settlement went to training.

“It’s definitely satisfying to see that money being used to benefit law enforcement for years to come,” Lee said.

“The officers who brought that settlement about have done a lot of good for law enforcement in the state of West Virginia especially with the money we’ve got here,” he said.

“The money spent here at the academy not only benefits the State Police but all law enforcement in West Virginia and will be benefiting law enforcement for years to come.”

The settlement money has paid for several remodeling projects at the academy. Each of the three buildings on campus had their stucco facades replaced with brick; central air and heating was installed in all of the buildings; and a new shooting range was built just up the hill from the main campus.

The remodeling cost a little more than $4 million.

Every new officer undergoing training at the academy will do so alongside veteran troopers returning to the academy for in-service training. State Police cadets undergo a 28-week in-residence training course. Basic officer training, which every law enforcement officer in the state must undergo before hitting the streets, lasts about 16 weeks.

“There’s a direct correlation to physical fitness, physical well being and mental alertness and being prepared to do whatever you’re tasked with at the time as a law enforcement officer,” Lee said.

“We put high priority in trying to get law enforcement officers in the best physical condition they can be so that they can be successful in their career and go home at the end of each shift.”

The building was designed based on the academy’s needs, said Lt. Curt Tilley, assistant director of training. The hangar was not designed to be a fitness facility and was too small.

The padded room will be used for hand-to-hand combat training, boxing and multiple-assailant training. Custom-cut pads still needed to be installed on the walls and floor.

He said while training in the hangar, the instructors would rest the mats against the wall.

The cardio room features treadmills and elliptical machines. The weight room holds heavy weights and free motion equipment, which are easy to use even for beginners, said Sgt. Rob Petry, the academy’s physical fitness instructor.

Some of the cardio equipment was obtained through military surplus at no cost other than shipping.

“We can honestly say we’ve saved several thousand dollars by using surplus supplies,” Tilley said.

Lee said the new facility was more suited to their needs and provided a nicer, safer place for new officers to learn and practice.

“For comfort, this is definitely a lot better,” he said. “This is climate controlled, where the old hangar had basically two temperatures, very hot and very cold.

“So, this is very nice.”

Exercise equipment is stored in a closet at the new physical training center at the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute. The $1.85 million facility was finished in mid-March and was built using funds from the 2004 Purdue Pharma Asset settlement.

The new training facility is the most recent addition to the West Virginia State Police Academy, which was remodeled a few years ago with money from the settlement.

The gymnasium in the new training center is much larger than the old hangar, where officers previously underwent training. The 12,000 square-foot facility also boasts a padded room for hand-to-hand activity, a cardio room and a weight training room.

Copyright 2012 Charleston Newspapers