Plans to renovate the existing Tarrant County Sheriff’s Training Academy were met with commissioners’ support Nov. 21.

A new training academy is needed for meeting and training purposes, as well as additional office space, locker rooms and more, according to meeting documents.

The overview

Representatives from Fort Worth-based architectural firm Komatsu shared three different options for the new training academy with commissioners.
  • The first option involved renovating the current academy, located at 1500 Circle Drive in Fort Worth. Using the whole building would give the academy 41,700 square feet and accommodate six classrooms, offices, detention training, weight training and locker rooms, according to the presentation. A firing range would be an optional addition that could be built with the initial renovation or added at a later date. The first option could be an interior-only remodel, or the exterior could also be renovated and enhanced. The cost for this option would start at $19.6 million, without the cost of furniture and equipment or the exterior enhancement or range building.
  • The second option would be to develop a more comprehensive building at Tarrant County College’s Northwest Campus attached to the existing Law Enforcement Training Center. The firing range in this option would be an addition to the existing range at the building, according to the presentation. The academy would be spread across two stories in this option, but would have similar accommodations as the first option and would have 40,925 total square feet. The cost of this option would start at $35.11 million, without additional firing range options or a tactical village.
  • The third option would create a stand-alone building at Tarrant County College’s Northwest Campus and would have similar offerings as the first two options, but with 57,895 square feet. This option would start at $51.67 million without firing range options or a tactical village.
The results

At the presentation conclusion, Precinct 4 Commissioner Manny Ramirez said in speaking with the sheriff’s office he’s learned they’re looking for a space “they can be proud of.”

“We want our sheriff's deputies to graduate from that academy or walk into that academy and be proud of the patch on the wall,” he said.

He noted the most cost effective option would be the first that was presented.

“Effectively you're doubling the size of the academy right there, because right now they're operating out of 20,000 square feet in that ... building,” he said. “I think that [option] makes the most sense.”

He said while not all the decisions had to be made right away, his initial thoughts were to move forward with renovations to the exterior of the building, the infilling of some spots to make a contiguous rectangle layout and a SWAT facility. That would bring the project to about $28.54 million.

Tarrant County Sheriff Bill Waybourn agreed with Ramirez’s outline and that more discussions on additional projects can be discussed later.

“While we don't want to put the range and the tactical village on the very backburner, it can wait, and we can move forward with space that we desperately need right now,” Waybourn said.

What’s next?

Commissioners indicated a general preference for the first option to county staff and Komatsu. In December, staff will present architectural services contracts for the scope of the project, which commissioners can act on and vote to approve.