Gilbert breaks ground on $85M police and firefighter training facility

May 21, 2019, 4:33 AM | Updated: 6:10 pm
(Facebook Photo/G‎ilbert Police Department)...
(Facebook Photo/G‎ilbert Police Department)
(Facebook Photo/G‎ilbert Police Department)

PHOENIX – Longtime plans for an East Valley police and firefighter training facility are becoming a reality.

Gilbert broke ground Monday on an $84.6 million public safety training facility on the northeast corner of Power and Pecos roads.

Gilbert Police Chief Mike Soelberg told KTAR News 92.3 FM the groundbreaking “was the culmination of … 15 years of work.”

The police and fire departments in Arizona’s fifth-largest municipality have been forced to rely on facilities in other communities for crucial hands-on training and simulations and to send recruits through their academies.

“We’ve got to beg, borrow and steal from other agencies to get our training, both our academies and our in-service training,” Soelberg said.

Building a facility had been on the back burner until recent years because of budgetary constraints, the recession and other projects, Soelberg said.

In November 2018, voters approved a $65.3 million bond to finance the bulk of the cost. The town’s general operating funds will cover the rest.

“We’re thankful for the support of the community,” Soelberg said.

“Without their vote last fall, this wouldn’t be happening, and we really value the trust they put in us to spend their money wisely to get a training facility that would meet our needs, both PD and fire.”

Plans include a driving course, firearms range, classrooms, training props and buildings designed to replicate common structures and hazards.

Each department will have one building tailored for its needs, and other parts of the facility will have the flexibility for both departments to utilize.

Soelberg said construction is expected to be completed in two years.

“We have a driving track that will be open in about a year, and then the rest of it will take another year,” he said.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Madison Spence contributed to this report.

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Gilbert breaks ground on $85M police and firefighter training facility