Politics & Government

Decision on law enforcement training center could come Wednesday

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

Wichita and Sedgwick County could take a large step toward choosing a new place to train police officers and sheriff’s deputies.

The Sedgwick County Commission will decide on Wednesday whether to accept a recommendation to put a new law enforcement training center on Wichita State University’s Innovation Campus.

It’s not the least expensive proposal the county received from the private sector, but county staff members say it best meets the needs for a new center.

The process

The city and the county have been searching for a new home for the center for years. The current training center is at a former elementary school built in the 1950s.

Sedgwick County was responsible for asking the private sector for proposals to build a center.

Wichita Mayor Jeff Longwell has been a vocal proponent of moving the center to WSU.

Last week, the county bid board recommended 5-0 that the county begin negotiations for a training center on the Innovation Campus.

WSU option

That proposal comes from an entity called MWCB LLC. It would cost about $9.5 million, to be split between the city and the county.

The proposed center on the Innovation Campus would include classrooms and faculty offices for WSU’s criminal justice program.

The center would also include tactical training and fitness rooms, locker rooms, 911 training rooms and classrooms for Wichita police officers and Sedgwick County deputies.

County facilities director Steve Claassen said parking for the training center would be designated.

The three-story, 60,000-square-foot center would be behind the Marcus Welcome Center and Woodman Alumni Center, according to a university news release.

Other options

Three other companies also submitted full proposals.

The county could have purchased a building near 21st and Woodlawn for $8.7 million. That proposal came from J.P. Weigand & Sons.

Webb Business Park LLC submitted an $11 million proposal for a building near 40th and Webb Road.

And Commer Center’s proposal would have put the center on 37th Street near Webb Road. It was $6.2 million, about $3.3 million less than the recommended proposal from MWCB.

Steve Martens, one of the owners of Commer Center, said he was frustrated his company didn’t get a call from county staff members to “even want to go look at the building.”

“It is what it is, but … it’s a head scratcher,” Martens said.

County treasurer Linda Kizzire also questioned during the bid board meeting why the board was recommending a more expensive option.

The four proposals were judged by appearance, location, parking, timeline of availability, annual operating cost, options for owning or leasing the property and overall cost.

Claassen said all four proposals were judged by the same criteria and that staff members found the WSU building best met those criteria.

Daniel Salazar: 316-269-6791, @imdanielsalazar

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