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City may get ‘police school’

The City of Andalusia is pursuing federal funding to build a state-of-the-art facility for regional law enforcement training.

Chief Wilbur Williams said the city has applied for a $259,000 public facilities grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA).

“We would focus on a 90-mile radius of our area,” Williams said. “There is nothing for law enforcement training between Mobile and Dothan. We would look to provide training for departments our size and smaller. Every sworn officer is required to have at least 12 hours of training a year.”

Williams said the proposed facility would have one classroom with a capacity of 85 people, and two smaller classrooms with a capacity of 30 each. There also would be offices, restroom facilities and a garage area.

The garage would serve two purposes, he said.

“It would provide storage for a couple of our vehicles that need to be out of the weather,” he said. But that type of facility is also required for a course that teaches officers how to set up vehicles for covert operations.

The facility, which would be built on 15 acres owned by the city behind Montezuma Center on Academy Drive, would also include a firing range with 20 pistol lanes and a rifle area. Williams said he also plans to have a “shoot” house, used for close-quarters tactical training.

Training will be tailored for all age groups, he said, using current scientific methods.

The facility will be conducive for use by groups like the Boy Scouts in earning badges related to guns and archery, he said.

“If we receive the grant, we would fund the rest of the project with a rural development loan at 4.5 percent interest for 30 years,” Williams said.

While the chief expects the facility would generate some revenue from hosting training events, the payment on that proposed loan could be paid with his department’s current training budget.

Williams said he feels good about the chances of getting the grant funded.

“Congressman (Bobby) Bright is very interested in law enforcement,” Williams said. “With his background, he knows and values training. And I really feel like this is a niche we can address.”