In other September 11th news the new Sheriff’s Regional Training Facility celebrated it’s grand opening yesterday. But not without a bit of controversy.
For 37 years, Rancho Santiago Community College District and the Orange County SheriffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Department (OCSD) have maintained a partnership that creates and delivers cutting-edge training to local law enforcement recruits. Their jointly-operated academy provides training for recruits from numerous Southern California agencies, as well as for recruits headed for the Orange County SheriffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Department.Ã‚Â Over time, the old facility used for this purpose became inadequate to meet modern-day demands.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Using land conveyed by the City of Tustin, Rancho Santiago Community College District has remedied the problem, building this state-of-the-art Training Academy on 15 acres of the former Marine Corps Air Station.Ã‚Â Developed by a project team including the architect and Santa Ana college stakeholders, the new Academy provides much-needed instructional space, and guarantees state-of-the-art training will remain available to recruits who will serve throughout the southland.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Voters who approved $156 million in construction bonds for the college in 2002 were promised that the majority of the money would go toward a new math and science building, a parking facility, a child-care center and other campus improvements. Voters were also told that $10 million would be spent on a new sheriffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s training facility.
However, the sheriffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s center has since swallowed $30 million in bond money, while other projects have received less than what was promised Ã¢â‚¬â€œ or nothing at all. The Rancho Santiago Community College District asked for more bond money for several of the same projects last November, but was shut down by voters. - OCRegister Investigation, Tony Saavedra
Designed by the architectural firm gkkworks, with Bernards serving as construction contractor, and C.W. Driver performing construction management, the 52,000-square- foot facility has been eagerly awaited by staff and recruits alike.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
The diversity of training environments needed for law enforcement recruits is evident.Ã‚Â The Academy features four lecture classrooms.Ã‚Â Each is fully outfitted with media equipment to enhance instruction, and provides instructional space for up to 92 recruits in the large classrooms.Ã‚Â The AcademyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s outdoor space substantially extends the instructional area, including an obstacle course, running path, and open areas used for training drills and recruit inspections – all without encroaching on the area needed for building maintenance.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
Inside the building, a main hallway joins the gymnasium, weight training room, and locker rooms that support physical development with the classrooms that support academic preparation.Ã‚Â Santa Ana College and OCSD staff who conduct instruction, the reserve officer training program, the video production unit, and the AcademyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s daily business operations are housed in 38 quick-to-access offices.Ã‚Â A large multipurpose room with movable wall partitions maximizes flexibility for the AcademyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s diverse operational needs.Ã‚Â The room can be quickly transformed to handle activities such as individual weight training, student and staff dining, and large-scale physical training before being converted for an eveningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s graduation activities seating up to 1,500 occupants.Ã‚Â
On the exterior, the new building reflects an awareness of the siteÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s history, blending well with the adjacent historic blimp hangars.Ã‚Â Old curved arches resembling the form of the two blimp hangars were utilized at the lobby entry, and over the gymnasium / multipurpose space.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
A memorial dedicated to Orange CountyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s fallen peace officers of all agencies will soon be built, and will become the site of the countyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s annual Peace Officer Memorial Ceremony and Candlelight Vigil.Ã‚Â Bearing too many memorial plaques, and bordered by a meditative walkway, the peaceful passage silently embodies OCSDÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s core values of honor and history, while presenting a clear reminder of the very real need for the training provided here.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
While the AcademyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s simple but modern palette of materials evokes memories of the past, it also generates a bold statement for this new training facility.Ã‚Â Traditional glass, steel, aluminum, and masonry block have all been restructured to achieve a striking new look, and a new commitment to CaliforniaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s environment.Ã‚Â The building envelope (designed with SCE Savings by Design guidelines) was designed to exceed California Energy Code requirements.Ã‚Â A few examples:Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
- Floors and finishes are made of sustainable materials.
- Passive solar design concepts were applied throughout the site.
- Use of environmental glass in predominantly north-facing glass window walls provides natural day lighting, while reflecting unwanted solar gain in the morning.
- Use of reflective roof finishes also reduces unwanted solar gain.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Ã‚Â
- Parking areas utilize new sustainable biofilter swales to keep sediments from running off the site.Ã‚Â
The Orange County SheriffÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Regional Training Academy was constructed using Measure E funds at a cost of $30.2 millionÃ‚Â Measure E, approved by voters in November 2002, provided Rancho Santiago Community College District $337 million for renovation and new construction at both Santa Ana and Santiago Canyon Colleges.Ã‚Â The AcademyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s audio-visual equipment was installed at cost of $534,000, primarily funded through a special Homeland Security grant obtained by OCSD, for the purpose of improving their law enforcement training.
Critics, however, protest what they see as bait-and-switch tactics that have become a staple of school bond campaigning since the passage of Proposition 39 in 2000. The state measure lowered the number of votes needed to approve a new school bond, while requiring school districts to list the projects that would be built. - Tony Saavedra, OCRegister
The new facility has not been without its critics.Ã‚Â Allegations have been made the the Rancho Santiago Community College District Board engaged in a bait and switch action on the voters.Ã‚Â The critics claim that other needs that were supposed to be funded by the bond funds used have been delayed in order to cover the costs of expanding the facility from it’s originally planned size. This was covered by the OrangeÃ‚Â County Register on MondayÃ‚Â here.