SAN DIEGO–A new San Diego Probation Department regional training facility in Scripps Ranch will provide officers from around the region with cutting-edge training enhancement opportunities including scenario-based and interactive maneuvers.
Probation Chief Adolfo Gonzales and County Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Kristin Gaspar were among the officials to cut the ribbon on the $5 million, 34,615-square-foot facility Thursday. Local law enforcement, probation staff and community service partners were among the guests.
Gaspar, who heads the County Board of Supervisors that helped fund the facility, remarked that the training center exceeded her expectations.
“Finally, we have a state-of-the-art facility that matches the best, I think, Probation Department,” said Gaspar. “Thank you to all of you here today for your commitment to public safety. I’m really pleased to play a small role in making a difference in the lives of people we serve each and every day.”
More effective and high-quality training opportunities are considered especially important because Probation staff are dealing with more sophisticated and dangerous clients as a result of the Public Safety Realignment Act.
“The beauty of it is this will be a facility that the entire region can benefit from,” said Gonzales. “Our officers will be better equipped and better trained to provide better service to the community.”
The training facility will also allow for collaborative training with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners to further improve teamwork in the field with other agencies.
Among the highlights of the new facility are a wellness center, an auditorium with a stage that can fold up to offer more floor space, a mat-training room, a use-of-force simulator, and a room with moveable walls with viewing from above for instructors, a library and computer room, and a gymnasium.
About 30 Probation employees will work out of this facility, and the capacity in the auditorium is for 124 students. The facility will be used by new Probation academy students and the Safety and Weapons Academy where officers learn tactics and how to protect themselves in the field. Additionally, all Probation officers who carry weapons must attend for different monthly training requirements on topics such as de-escalation strategies and treatment-oriented education, Gonzales said.
“What I like best and am most proud about is our wellness center. The first thing you see when you come in is an opportunity for our officers and employees to go to a wellness center to either go to peer support or chaplains for either psychological, physical, emotional or financial help — whatever you need it’s here for you,” said Gonzales. “The facility is set up to serve the employee. Our officers will be better prepared coming out because of the environment we’re creating.”
The classrooms, both traditional and non-traditional, can also be offered up to community service providers to offer sessions on topics such as youth development, trauma-informed care or bias.
The room with the moveable walls will allow officers to really apply their skills adjusting to unfamiliar locations because the layout will be different every time, depending on the scenario. Trainers can use computers to adjust the scenario to have the wanted person, or persons, cooperate or not. Lighting can also be adjusted from dark to bright.
The facility located in an industrial park setting will consolidate training functions for officers. Previously, those trainings have occurred in multiple buildings from Otay Mesa to Kearny Mesa, and often involved leasing buildings on a temporary basis to offer trainings. After visiting some of those sites, Gonzales said he knew officers were spending a lot of time traveling from place to place and some buildings were not well-suited for learning because of obstructions in the classroom, which made it difficult to see a presenter or screen.