Dallas Examines a Fort Worth Crime Fighting Advantage

Dallas leaders visit high tech Fort Worth Police Academy

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Dallas leaders visited Fort Worth's Police Training Facility this week to investigate how a possible new Dallas Police Academy could be a crime-fighting advantage.

A photo taken by a Fort Worth Police officer shows Dallas City Manager T.C. Broadnax, Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall, Dallas City Council Member Adam McGough and other Dallas officials hosted by Fort Worth Police Chief Ed Kraus at the Fort Worth facility this week.

"A lot of agencies from throughout the country have come out to see what we've got here," Kraus said.

The quarter-mile-long Fort Worth building on Felix Street was once owned by the Federal Government.

It has many classrooms and four indoor shooting ranges, one of them 100 yards long.

"It's an amazing recruiting tool," Kraus said.

What makes it truly special is the urban tactical village with a replica bank, a school and a two-story apartment building.

High tech sound and lighting can simulate any condition. The indoor village is right beside the outdoor vehicle driving course.

"They can drive straight from the driving track, into that facility, so we can simulate them getting a call," Kraus said.

The Chief said City of Fort Worth invested $110 million to renovate the old federal warehouses into a high tech public safety headquarters and training campus.

Kraus said it helps lure police officers to join Fort Worth Police from other cities.

"They come down here and they see how much money Fort Worth has invested in training our police officers, and you know, it's a natural draw,"

By contrast, The Dallas Police Academy is an old commercial building near Dallas Executive Airport. Leaders of the Dallas Police Association who've escorted Dallas officials on the Fort Worth tours said Dallas is paying $85,000 a month rent for a place with none of Fort Worth's extra's.

"With the climate of the profession, we're still recruiting a lot of people that what to be employed by the City of Dallas and we just don't have the facility to train these people like they should be trained," said Dallas Police Association Vice President DeMarcus Turner.

The union leader said a record large class of 82 Dallas Police recruits that started in September is crowded in the old building.

City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn has toured the Dallas Police Academy.

She said the training going on there was impressive but the building was not.

"It's completely unimpressive but it's also in bad shape," Mendelsohn said.

She supports a new training academy like Fort Worth has.

"Everything the Council can do to help support a reduction in crime, I think we should do and I think we have the will to do," Mendelsohn said.

The Dallas Police force is currently around 600 officers smaller than it was in 2011. This year Dallas recorded a big spike in violent crime. Recruiting and retaining more police officers is a major priority for the city. 

Councilman Lee Kleinman said Dallas should use other academies instead of making such a large police training investment.

Several Community Colleges in North Texas have Police Academies that train for police departments.

"We need to get them in here, get them licensed, get them hired. But I don't think we need an academy to do that," Kleinman said. "All those officers that work in the academy, they could be in patrol cars out in the street."

The Fort Worth Chief said in house training programs help control quality.

"That kind of investment for our department is just a shot in the arm for morale," Krause said.

Several locations have been discussed over the years for a possible new Dallas Police Academy.

"Even when I came on, which was nine years ago, we were told, 'Hey, they're going to create a new facility,'" Turner said.

The offices of Dallas City Manager Broadnax and Police Chief Hall did not respond to requests for comment Friday.

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