City, State Leaders Break Ground on New Training Center


By Morgan Hightower

State and city leaders broke ground Friday on a new emergency vehicle operation training center for law enforcement officers and other operators of emergency vehicles.

The multi-phase project is a public safety training partnership of the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission and the city of Montgomery, with Phase 1 completion expected within eight to 12 months.

APOSTC Executive Secretary Chief R. Alan Benefield said the Alabama Law Enforcement Emergency Vehicle Operation Center will provide critical skilled driver training at both basic and advanced levels to all law enforcement officers in Alabama.

“The APOST Commission is extremely pleased to join with the city of Montgomery and the Montgomery Police Academy to develop this training center,” said Benefield. “The ALEEVOC will help accomplish our goal to further improve the training and proficiency of all Alabama law enforcement officers so they can better serve and protect our citizens.”

Benefield noted that traffic crashes are the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for law enforcement officers, exceeding officer deaths due to firearms.

“Certainly, extensive training of law enforcement officers on the use of force involving firearms is a critical part of their everyday training, yet only minimal emergency vehicle operation training is provided to the average officer,” said Benefield.

The new EVO training center will bolster basic training and remedy the lack of advanced and specialized training, Benefield said.

Currently, select officers who receive advanced and specialized vehicle operation training must travel out of state to receive the additional training.

“And while we have many law enforcement firearms training sites in Alabama, there is no driver training facility to properly train our officers for everyday patrol driving and the unfortunately necessary pursuit which is dictated when individuals fail to stop for a signaling law enforcement emergency vehicle.”

Montgomery Mayor Todd Strange termed the center the first of its kind in Alabama and said it will be used to train officers statewide.

“Nowhere else in the state will you find a facility that provides on-site training for daily emergency vehicle operation, emergency response, and pursuit driving. We are delighted to partner with APOSTC to host this statewide training center in the capital city,” said Strange.

Driving is an essential task for public safety personnel that directly influences both officer and public safety, said Chris Murphy, director of the Montgomery Department of Public Safety.

“Emergency vehicle operation training is essential in saving officers’ lives, but it also is vital in keeping our communities safer,” said Murphy. “With better trained officers, the roadways become safer for communities.”

Current training exposes officers to defensive driving environments through a cone course conducted at relatively low speeds.

The new emergency vehicle operation course will train public safety personnel in realistic situations that they may experience on roadways.

“Driving simulators for pursuit and emergency response training are helpful, but there is no better training tool than actually driving and feeling the response from the vehicle,” Benefield said.

Preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund indicates that traffic fatalities have been the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for the 13th consecutive year. According to the NLEOMF, 740 officers have died in motor vehicle crashes since 2001, and 2010 saw a 43 percent increase in officer-involved traffic fatalities, compared with 2009. All three of the Montgomery Police Department’s most recent officer fatalities were due to motor vehicle crashes.

The new training center, located on approximately 500 acres off Old Hayneville Road west of Dannelly Field, will offer basic and advanced training to police officers, deputy sheriffs, state troopers and other operators of emergency vehicles. Training will include:

•Defensive Driving – Basic non-emergency driving to include braking, turning and backing and off-road recovery.
•Pursuit Driving – When to initiate a pursuit, proper hand positioning, how to proceed safely while in a pursuit, collision avoidance, when to call off a pursuit.
•Tactical Vehicle Intervention – Stationary roadblocks, tire deflation, rolling roadblocks, etc.
•Emergency Response Driving – Title 32, clearing intersections, maneuvering techniques while in traffic, radio use while driving, and proper hand positioning.
•All Weather Driving – Skid recovery (skid pad and through use of skid car).
•Roadside Safety – Proper vehicle placement during traffic stops, proper Y-turn procedures, proper U-turn procedures.
•Motorcycle Operation – Classes for motorcycle officers for safe vehicle operation in all conditions.
•Executive Protection – Dignitary protection driving and vehicle operation to include motorcade driving.

Murphy said long-range plans for the center include developing a consolidated public safety training facility that incorporates the Fire Academy and 911 Communications training, in addition to the Montgomery Police Academy.

The Alabama Law Enforcement Emergency Vehicle Operation Center project is currently in the master plan design stage. Quick facts about the project:

•The Montgomery Police Department and APOSTC began developing the concept for the statewide EVO training center in 2006.
•The land was purchased in 2010 for $1 million, with APOSTC and the city of Montgomery dividing the cost equally. At a cost of $330,000, the city purchased an additional 98 acres fronting Old Hayneville Road to complete the parcel. The property currently is being mapped and designed for development.
•Bids for Phase 1 construction were opened July 19 and are currently being evaluated.
•Property purchased for the center adjoins the Montgomery Police Department’s existing outdoor firing range, which includes a 20-position handgun range and a tactical range that includes a rifle range, combat courses, and an explosive disposal and training bunker. All firearms instruction and qualification, officer survival courses, and major seminars offered by MPD are held at this facility.

Although planning is still ongoing, project phases tentatively are:

Phase 1 - Skills pad, classroom and vehicle maintenance facility;
Phase 2 - Administration building, urban grid, skid pad, control tower;
Phase 3 - High-speed loop and miscellaneous through streets;
Phase 4 - Dormitory, gymnasium; and
Phase 5 - Multipurpose training facility.

The primary purpose of Phase 1 is the skills pad. This will provide a safe and controlled area to teach new recruits — as well as current public safety personnel — driving fundamentals such as vehicle placement, vehicle positioning, backing, and skid avoidance (though the use of a skid car). Phase 1 also will include a building that will provide offices for the instructors and classroom facilities for the training of public safety personnel, and a garage area for maintenance of the track vehicles.

Phase 2 will provide an urban grid of simulated streets to include intersections, traffic signals and roadway signs. This is a critical tool in teaching intersection clearing and emergency response driving. Along with the urban grid, this phase will contain a skid pad, a polished concrete area that, when wet, will provide for skid recovery training. A main control tower will allow track instructors to oversee and ensure safety throughout the entire facility. This is an essential element in preparation for Phase 3. Phase 2 also includes an administration building to support the long-term goals of the facility.

Phase 3 will provide a two-mile outer loop with serpentine roadways, curves, and multi-lane straightaways. The course also will feature surface transitions from asphalt to concrete for simulated interstate transitions. This outer loop will provide public safety personnel with the ability to train at realistic speeds on the same surfaces that they work on daily.

Phase 4 will provide a dormitory and gymnasium for academy recruits and public safety personnel training on these facilities. As one of Alabama’s regional police academies, the Montgomery Police Academy is mandated to provide physical training to recruits while they attend the police academy. Phase 4 will allow the academy to continue to meet APOSTC regulations relative to physical training and facilitate training at the center by housing students on site.

Phase 5 takes into account long-range planning for the facility. It consists of a multipurpose training facility that would centralize all Montgomery Department of Public Safety training, including Fire/Rescue and 911 Communications. This facility also would be able to accommodate any large group or training function.

(Information Source: City of Montgomery)

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