The city of Wichita wants the new center for law enforcement training to be at Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus.
“The city has looked at multiple different directions,” said Mayor Jeff Longwell on Thursday. “The best direction that we can go is to pursue the Innovation Campus. It just ties together nicely.”
“There’s no question that there are still hurdles to get beyond,” he said. “But we know that this is an opportunity that we feel strongly about.”
It’s the latest step in a years-long effort to find a new place for Wichita police officers, Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputies and emergency personnel to train.
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But it’s no done deal. Sedgwick County commissioners are waiting for staff recommendations on several proposals they received last year.
“We will hear the proposals and their recommendation and deliberate and make a decision when we are ready,” Sedgwick County Chairman Jim Howell said. “We have several great options and we may or may not agree with Wichita’s opinion.”
Longwell said the Innovation Campus center could provide “world-class training space” for law enforcement. He also said there was a need to team with WSU’s criminal justice program.
The current center is at a former elementary school near I-235 and Meridian in north Wichita. Longwell said the aging building has a “number of issues we’ll never get beyond.”
“At the time, the total intent was that it would become just a temporary facility,” Longwell said. “That temporary facility has outlived its usefulness by a long ways.”
The center has been at 2235 W. 37th St. North since 1985. The school was originally built in 1958.
He said the Innovation Campus location could cost under $10 million, which would be cheaper than options previously considered, like a $30 million project at the Heartland Preparedness Center.
“That should be great news for anyone that pays taxes in this community,” Longwell said.
Longwell said the announcement would help county leaders understand the city’s position.
“They still have some steps that they have to do to get comfortable with this,” Longwell said.
“It helps them at least fully understand where the city’s at,” he added after the news conference.
Sedgwick County is following its ongoing request for proposal process, according to a county news release.
“At this point, Sedgwick County is committed to working with its partners to find a solution for this training center,” the statement said.
Sedgwick County crafted and published the request for proposals, with meetings between city and county staff members during the process. It issued the request to the private sector in August.
Thirteen companies responded in November to the request for proposal, but only four submitted plans.
Howell said all options are on the table and that the county commissioners would consider whatever option their staff recommends.
The proposed center on the Innovation Campus would include classrooms for WSU’s criminal justice program, according to a university news release.
“Any facility built on the university campus is subject to approval by the Kansas Board of Regents and other state entities,” the statement said.
According to illustrations provided at the news conference, it would be near the corner of 19th Street and Innovation Boulevard.