WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — The District of Columbia police department unveiled a new training facility Wednesday to help officers and recruits prepare for both routine tactical scenarios they might face as well as major emergencies like the recent Washington Navy Yard shooting.
The multi-million dollar center, years in the making, was constructed in southwest D.C. on the grounds of the department’s old shooting range. Officials say the facility is the only one like it in the region.
Mayor Vincent Gray, Police Chief Cathy Lanier and other officials cut the ribbon on the center as police demonstrated the various skills — including rappelling down a tower — that will be honed there.
The facility is intended to simulate real-life scenarios that police officers might encounter on the job, including a mass shooting like the Sept. 16 Navy Yard massacre. Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old former Navy reservist, killed 12 people inside the building before being shot and killed by police. Lanier has described the makeup of the massive building, with its many cubicles surrounded by high walls, as a tactical nightmare. But police will also work on less harrowing and more mundane situations at the training center, she said.
“This is not just for SWAT teams and bomb units. This is for everyday police work,” Lanier told reporters during a tour of the new facility.
The facility includes a 1,000-square-foot “gas house,” where recruits will learn how to cope with exposure to pepper spray, tear gas and other chemicals, as well as a model village — with a main street, alleyways and training modules — designed to replicate urban life.
“All of these things really require a very realistic environment and there are scenarios we cannot practice out in public,” Lanier said.
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