Portland Police Bureau’s new Training Complex lauded by City officials

See why City leaders, past and present, say this new facility has been needed for a long time, and is now more necessary than ever …

Guests gather as the new Portland Police Bureau Training Complex is about to officially open.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Almost exactly two years after the new Portland Police Bureau Training Complex was dedicated, in the Wilkes neighborhood of outer East Portland, officials again gathered at the building – this time to cut a ribbon, signaling its completion.

> See our story: Police dedicate new training facility in Wilkes neighborhood: CLICK HERE.

On September 18, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) sworn officers, staff, City of Portland officials, and well-wishers, gathered in the parking lot of the new 61,193 square foot building complex, situated on 9.6 acres at 14902 NE Airport Way,

Portland Police Bureau Chief Michael Reese addresses the assembly at the opening of the new Training Complex

“This is the first time, in our Bureau’s 144-year-old history that we’ve had a centralized training facility,” PPB Chief Michael Reese remarked before the official proceedings began.

“We have incredibly good trainers and staff assigned to the Training Division,” Reese told East Portland News. “But for decades, we’ve had to train at rented or leased facilities, sometimes driving for training from one county to another, and patching our training programs together at many different locations.”

“This new facility will fundamentally alter how we provide training to police officers,” Reese opined. “Police work has come to be incredibly complex and challenging. Training is at the core of preparing her officers for the new challenges they face on the street every day.”

The new Training Complex will help better train officers, agrees Portland Mayor Charlie Hales.

Police officers need to be carefully and thoroughly trained to do their job, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales told East Portland News.

“There is a lot of subtlety to that training,” Hales said. “My goal is for our officers to do their job intelligently, wisely, and humanely, for the citizens we all serve. It’s not just learning tactics of dealing with violence, but is also learning the tactics of the escalation. Everything here is set up to meet that purpose.

“And it is being done at an amazingly affordable cost,” Hales continued. “We built this facility for about $15 million. This is 1/10 of the original estimate that the Portland City Council received a few years ago for what it would cost to build a training facility. This provides a good value and good results for the community.

“My predecessors on the Portland City Council had the foresight to start this project, and I’m glad to see it carried through to fruition; I am very proud of that,” Hales added.

The PPB Honor Guard and Highland Guard present the Colors.

Standing in the gathering crowd was former Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard. “I was involved in the ‘good, the bad, and the ugly’ of this project,” he said.

“The ‘bad and ugly’ was that the initial plan to build the facility in Scappoose and cost about $150 million,” Leonard commented. “But, working with the Bureau and City Council, we buy something in the city that would be more reasonably priced. They’ve done a fantastic job. Seeing it completed makes me feel good.”

After brief remarks, Mayor Hales and Chief Reese cut the ceremonial ribbon, officially opening the PPB Training Complex.

In the entryway, local artists Maria T. D. Inocencio and Mark R. Smith talk with guests about one of their works on permanent display there – called “Connecting Lines” – a series of collages based on interviews with police officers and community members.

On the way in the new building, Chief Reese said to have all of their training disciplines together, under one roof, made him feel “really good”.

Inside, Mayor Hales met up briefly with former Mayor Sam Adams in the entryway.

Two Portland Mayors, Charlie Hales and Sam Adams, say they’re pleased with the outcome of this project.

“This project started when I was in office,” Adams reminisced. “We worked really hard to secure the site, and the General Funding for it as well. You cannot expect our police officers to be effective peacekeepers if they don’t have a training facility. Now that I’ve seen it, this complex looks fantastic.”

Guests tour the “Scenario Village” – an urban street where police officers will train under real-life circumstances.

In the “Scenario Village” area of the Training Complex, PPB Public Information Officer Sgt. Pete Simpson said that, in the past, they’d had to travel to Camp Rilea, a military base on the Oregon Coast, for realistic scenario training.

“But, inside the rooms of our ‘village’,” Simpson explained, “trainers can install additional – or move – wall panels that change the scenario. Every time an officer comes in for training, the rooms and buildings can be set up differently so in training so that an officer never faces the same scenario twice.”

A District patrol car is positioned to begin a run in the 3.5 acre Patrol Vehicle Operations Area.

The complex features Defensive Tactics Mat Rooms, multiple classrooms in a variety of sizes, and administrative offices.

And, its “green components” include water efficiency, multiple energy performance measures, recycling of materials, purchasing systems, and waste disposal practices, Simpson said.

© 2014 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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