Politics & Government

Sedgwick County staff: Put law enforcement training center at Wichita State

An artist’s illustration shows the planned look of a new law enforcement training center on Wichita State’s Innovation Campus.
An artist’s illustration shows the planned look of a new law enforcement training center on Wichita State’s Innovation Campus. Courtesy photo

Sedgwick County staff on Thursday said a new law enforcement training center should be at Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus.

The county bid board unanimously recommended that the county accept a $9.5 million proposal from MWCB LLC and negotiate with them to build a new training center for law enforcement.

This comes about two months after Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell announced that the city wants the center at the Innovation Campus. That prompted Sedgwick County to push back the negotiation period until this month.

Wichita police officers and Sedgwick County sheriff’s deputies currently train in an aging former elementary school at 2235 W. 37th St. North. The city and the county have been looking for a new location for years.

A committee of county staff members found that the Innovation Campus proposal “best met the needs of the LETC program,” said Kim Evans, with the county facilities department.

They based that off of the total cost of the building as well as its location, parking, operating costs, timeline of availability and whether it could be a single-tenant building.

A number of top county officials, including Sheriff Jeff Easter, also agreed in a second review. County commission feedback was also considered.

Although the county led the process to review proposals from the private sector, the city of Wichita also would chip in to pay for the $9.5 million building.

“The understanding is that this will be split between the city and the county,” said Steve Claassen, county facilities director.

County Treasurer Linda Kizzire raised questions over the cost and the availability of parking at WSU.

But Claassen said parking around the building would be clearly marked for the law enforcement training center.

“With this project, we think that base is clearly covered,” Claassen said.

Three other proposals, from J.P. Weigand & Sons, Webb Business Park LLC and Commer Center LLC, were also considered. The proposals from Commer Center and J.P. Weigand & Sons were cheaper than MWCB’s proposal.

Longwell called the proposal the “most economical alternative that accomplishes everything we’re trying to achieve.”

“We could find, certainly, a cheaper alternative that doesn’t quite fulfill what we’re trying to accomplish,” he said.

“I’m happy the bid board recognized that,” Longwell added. “I’ll be interested to see where it goes in discussion with those that are in power because we haven’t been able to move the needle much yet.”

The County Commission would need to give final approval to the proposal. Its next meeting is May 11.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar