Police receive $2 million for training facility

VCU Police officers are required to qualify two times per year to prove their proficiency with firearms. Chief John Venuti watches officers prepare for their testing at the firing range of another local agency.

Matt Leonard
Contributing Writer

The VCU Police Department received a $2.08 million grant to build a regional training facility for campus police. The grant was announced in December by now-former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.

“This training facility will allow for more specialized training for things like active shooter response or crowd management, in addition to providing a dedicated space for continuing education, training and qualifications,” said assistant chief of police Chris Preuss. “We also intend for it to be a regional resource so other campus law enforcement agencies in our area can prepare their officers to effectively police their campuses,” Preuss said.

For more than two decades, the VCU Police Department has been the only university police force with its own academy.

“It’s an absolute critical part of making sure we have the best prepared, best trained, best capable law enforcement agency we can possibly have to keep the community safe,” said VCU Police spokesperson Michael Kelly.

Kelly said the new facility will allow officers to experience what it will be like to police an urban educational environment.

Within the new training facilities new recruits can expect their education to be more in depth. In addition to classroom work they would experience at the current academy, recruits can expect more immersive training including more firearms training and simulated environments such as dorms and classrooms, Kelly said.

With a growing police force the current, mostly classroom-based academy is outgrowing its space.

“We have some unique challenges being an urban school with porous borders. We feel like we can do the most effective job getting our people prepared here,” Kelly said.

Current officers will also use the training facilities for their required ongoing education. All officers must re-qualify for firearms use twice each year, Kelly said, and they are currently relying on partner facilities to do so.

The construction on the new training facility is set to start within a year, but a location has not yet been finalized.

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