LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The critical shooting and de-escalation training for hundreds of officers across the state could come to a screeching halt. The building in which that training takes place at the Department of Criminal Justice Training in Richmond, Kentucky, is falling apart.
The McKinney Firing Range is in such disrepair, that it is at risk of “catastrophic failure” according to a recent inspection. There were numerous safety hazards noted too, according to the EOP Architectural Firm. It was built in 1992 and is crumbling, the DOCJT told WAVE 3 News. The structural problems are beyond repair, a spokesperson said.
The DOCJT was forced to make emergency repairs to continue using the building for now. But, time is running out before the DOCJT is forced to suspend the building’s use for concerns over safety.
If that happens, one chief of police told WAVE 3 News the safety of communities all over Kentucky could be affected. Any stop to the training because of the condition of the building, Kenton County Police Department Chief Michael “Spike” Jones explained, could delay officers getting on the streets.
“Without that, we’re going to be backing up classes potentially for years,” Jones, who is also the chairman of the Kentucky Law Enforcement Council, said. “That is not a good scenario.”
Only four law enforcement agencies in the entire state, don’t train at the DOCJT. LMPD is one of the four, but all other departments in Jefferson County, like the police department in the suburbs and the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office do rely on the facility.
The building’s importance and the urgency of it were enough to get the attention of Governor Andy Beshear, who included $23 million in his proposed budget which was presented to legislatures. The legislature is currently crafting the budget. It is currently unclear if the funding will make it into the final budget coming from them.
The facility is not only used for firearms training, but also for de-escalation and critical decision making during dangerous scenarios, training that is mandated by state law.
The DOCJT Commissioner, Nicolai Jilek said the department serves more than 8,000 officers in the state who depend on 98 hours of state-mandated firearms training.
“The training space is an integral part of DOCJT’s skills training and provides officers opportunities for real-life scenarios unequaled across the commonwealth,” Jilek said. “Officers have the opportunity to learn and practice de-escalation and interpersonal skills; critical decision making under stress; alternate response to potential deadly-force encounters; team tactics and less-lethal response, skills that are being demanded by our communities for interactions with law enforcement.”
Chief Jones agreed.
“The most important things we train with, is our ability to connect with another human being and connect with and de-escalate a situation, to bring a situation down calmly to some resolve in the hopes, the very prayerful hopes that we never have to use those firearms,” Jones said. “This facility is an essential part of that de-escalation training.”
With the repairs made by the DOCJT, the building has been given a shelf life of between 2-3 years, a short time frame to build a new facility.
But, without one, Jones warns, communities all over the state could pay a price.