WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Texas (KXAN) — County leaders broke ground Thursday afternoon on the new Williamson County Sheriff’s Office Training Center. The 25,000-square foot building is located next to the sheriff’s office shooting range off County Road 130 in Hutto. The center will have space for defensive tactics training, driving simulation, officer fitness and classroom training.
The current training center in Georgetown has been around since the mid-80s. The building used to house juveniles, so former cells are now filled with storage that overflows into the hallways. The building has one classroom, which isn’t large enough for everyone, so other deputies work outside in a portable classroom.
“About eight years ago I took a class in [this portable classroom] that the Sheriff’s Department provided for the county, and it’s still here and it’s still in the same shape it was,” explains Williamson County Sheriff Robert Chody.
Driving simulators are stored in a second portable, but they’re broken, so deputies can’t train on them. Since Jan. 1, 2017, there have been at least six accidents involving deputy vehicles. Sheriff Chody says driving simulators can help deputies. “When your deputies aren’t creating collisions that they aren’t at fault for, taxpayers aren’t paying for repairs on those vehicles.”
The current training room for cadets has one small fitness room, with donated equipment. “It’s somewhat embarrassing to some degree,” says Chody. “When you see this and you limit your training staff and deputies to this, you’re going to get this on the street.” Sheriff Chody believes a new training center will better prepare his deputies to keep citizens safe.
The new training center will cost about $7.9 million. Most of the money will come from bonds, but $500,000 will come from the Sheriff’s Office seizure fund. The project is expected to be done by next winter.
In 2015, the city of Georgetown opened a new Public Safety Operations and Training Center. Voters approved more than $29 million to get it built. Last November, workers in Round Rock broke ground on that city’s new training center for police and fire. A spokesperson for the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office says sharing training facilities with other cities creates logistical problems, and having a separate facility allows more time for quality training.