Officials with the Northeast Alabama Law Enforcement Academy hope that as soon as early January, a new firearms unit on Roy Webb Road in northern Calhoun County will be complete. The facility will feature a live-fire facility, range tower, classroom and turning target simulator.
Greg Hardy, chief of staff for the Alabama Peace Officers Standards and Training Commission, said there was a need for a firearms facility in Calhoun County for both military and law enforcement officials. It will be used for tactical training, advanced weapons training and basic training, he said.
According to Tallapoosa County Sheriff Jimmy Abbett, chairman of the commission, state officials allocated $1 million for the project in 2007. The property for the new facility was purchased in 2010, and construction began in 2012.
Glaze said the live-fire shoot house at the facility will be good for officers because most training facilities offer only training using paintball guns or other substitutes.
Paint bullets are safer, Glaze said, but they don’t help officers prepare for active-duty work as well as regular bullets do.
Hardy said he did not know how many live-fire training facilities there are in Alabama, but said most of the larger training facilities, such as the Montgomery Police Academy, have them.
Hardy said there are different types of live-fire facilities equipped for training with like pistols and rifles. Hardy said the commission is planning for the new facility to be equipped for both small and long firearms.
Both Hardy and Glaze said real firearms training is mandatory for officers going through basic training, and it’s necessary for three fundamental reasons.
“One is so recruits can be tested on their accuracy and their ability to identify threats,” Glaze said. “The second is for liability reasons — we can’t very well put people on the street with a deadly weapon without giving them training. And the third and most important is so the officer develops a confidence in their abilities and is able to respond appropriately under stress.”
Glaze said academy officials plan to open the firearms unit in January, with the first class of recruits using it by Jan. 14.
Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.