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New Dallas Police Training Academy To Replace Old, 'Horrible Dump' Of A Building 

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) - For more than three decades, every new Dallas police officer has passed through the same small one story training academy in South Dallas.

In a recent public safety meeting, council member Cara Mendelsohn described it as a "horrible dump" and many have quietly agreed, impatiently waiting for city leaders to make progress on replacing it. Year after year, the Dallas police force has been shrinking, losing officers faster than it can hire them. There are many reasons for that, but one, city leaders say, is the size of the academy.

"During COVID, that was the biggest excuse we were given on why we couldn't hire the officers that we had even put in the budget," said council member Adam McGough, who chairs the city's public safety committee. "We couldn't hold classes because we couldn't even space folks."

He said he considers Dallas' police department one of the country's finest.

"I'm thinking about a Super Bowl caliber team, yet we're training and practicing at facilities that are more appropriate for a middle school football team," he said.

The academy has six small classrooms. Its tiny gym has broken mirrors and rusted weights. In a battered locker room with a broken urinal, there aren't enough lockers for each recruit to have their own.

"It's embarrassing when I walk through the academy. That's not – it's not a location that we that we really want our recruits to be," said Chief Eddie Garcia.

The city has been working on a replacement and reached an agreement with the University of North Texas campus in South Dallas to build its new academy there. Renderings show a large brand new three story building, located near university housing and a DART line, reflecting a more community based approach to policing.

"The message is going to be that we're in the middle of our community, in the middle of our city as we're training our new officers," said Garcia.

The academy would be built to meet the department's needs, with modern training equipment and space to expand on the continuing education of its veteran officers, too.

"With reality based training, with artificial intelligence, with new, very appropriate cultural training , and as you mentioned continuing education that keeps coming up," said McGough.

City council is expecting to get the estimated cost for the new facility in the coming weeks and then begin searching for the money needed to get it done.

The project is expected to take at least three years to complete, but council members, like Mendelsohn and McGough want it ready as soon as possible.

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