City plans police training site
BENTONVILLE — Bentonville police officers used the Benton County Sheriff’s Office firing range for practice Friday. They also practice at ranges owned by the Rogers Police Department and the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy in Springdale.
All of that will change when the agency opens its own $1.65 million training facility. Plans include an outdoor firing range on 20 acres of urban land near the Bentonville Armory, just off the Regional Airport Road.
Cpl. Adam McInnis, the department’s public information officer, was within reach of the sheriff on Friday. Officers worked on moving and shooting drills, he said. The department tries to do remote work once a quarter, but that will likely increase when Bentonville gets its own facility, he said.
The project will go out for tender this month, Police Chief Ray Shastid said Friday. The training center is part of the city’s $266 million bond plan for capital projects and bond refinancing passed by voters on April 13, 2021. The city is paying for the bonds by extending a sales tax of 1 cent.
The police training center will include a virtual simulator, an outdoor shooting range, a police dog training area and a training building. It would also be used as a training area for the Mine Squad/Special Response Team. The bomb squad covers northwest Arkansas and parts of Missouri.
The outer range will feature a bullet trap to capture all the lead. This keeps the range within the best management practices according to the US Environmental Protection Agency for recovery and recycling. Collected lead can be resold to specific businesses, depending on the city.
Officers fired into a dirt berm during practice Friday, McInnis said.
The bullet trap was ordered from Action Target and is under construction, Shastid said.
The police department already uses the VirTra V-300 simulator training system. It’s housed at the police department on 14th Street Southwest. The cost was $233,377. VirTra is based in Tempe, Arizona.
Most officers in the department have taken training on the simulator at least once, McInnis said. The system helps prepare officers for real incidents. The simulator features realistic scenarios that provide in-depth insight into human performance.
The department planned 92 officers this year, down from 84 last year, McInnis previously said.
The city is also building a $3.9 million fire department training facility that was approved in the bond. A beam signing at the Southwest Aviation Drive site took place on Monday.
A new radio system is also in preparation. The bond will pay nearly $6.6 million.
The current system is 15 years old, outdated, not upgradable and parts are difficult to acquire, said fire battalion chief Jeremy Metcalf.