Blockwatch Beat: A hilltop gem

If you haven’t had dealings with the police department, and I don’t mean criminal dealings, you may have never seen the Columbus Police Academy, located at 1000 N. Hague Ave.

This state of the art facility draws visitors from all over Ohio and all over the country. Many public meetings like the state-wide Anti-gang Summit meeting and the recent town meeting, along with numerous other civic events are held in the large and luxurious auditorium.

I was recently treated to a behind the scenes tour by Advanced Training Officer Norm Russell, who was the long time Community Liaison Officer for the 19th precinct. He showed me why law enforcement specialists are willing to come from all over the country to teach and train at our police academy.

Inside the academy, you will find a weight room that rivals even the biggest gym. There is a swimming pool for training, exercise and physical rehab for our injured officers.

There are many computer labs, which our officers need in the computer age where every cruiser has an in-car computer.

There are many areas where the officers, both new and old, get hands on training too.

Special rooms are set up with floor to ceiling video screens that simulate real situations where the officers have to decide in a split second if they will fire their weapon.

Several other rooms are set up like actual buildings officers might encounter, including the interior of apartments and houses, complete with furniture and kitchens. One room is set up to mimic the typical bar, with low lights and loud music. There is also a “wet” room equipped with a cruiser and the ability to simulate rain.

These scenarios and many others help officers to train and interact in surroundings they will find every day on their job.

All of these rooms have observation booths for instructors and are equipped with cameras, so that the trainees can view what they did right and wrong.

Still in the works are an extensive law library and a computer forensics lab. The academy building also houses the 15th precinct’s sub-station.

If you are ever able to visit the police academy, be sure to visit the gift shop too.

This is certainly one of the finest police academies in the country and it’s right here in the the Hilltop.

Sometimes it feels as though the city forgets the Hilltop, but we can be proud to know that the Columbus Police Academy is famous across the country and it belongs to us.

Jay McCallister is coordinator of the Haldy, N. Huron and N. Westmoor Blockwatch.

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