By Erica Thomas, managing editor
TRUSSVILLE — The city of Trussville closed on the purchase of a 20,000 square-foot facility off Deerfoot Parkway. The building will be used as a police training facility. The former Sheepdog Firearms, at 5900 Deerfoot Parkway, was sold to the city for $2.3 million, five months after the gun range went out of business.
“They’re basically moving that whole operation out and give them more space to not only train but more meeting space,” Choat said. “The force is going to continue to grow. As we prepare our budget for next year, we’ve got some more hires and we’re going to keep growing our police department. With the census that just came out, it looks like we’re going to have to do it sooner than later.”
Police Chief Eric Rush said he has proposed four new hires for the police department in the upcoming fiscal year. He said eventually, he would like to have three officers for every 1,000 residents.
Councilor Ben Short, who previously worked for the Trussville Police Department, said with the growth of the city, the needs of the department also grow.
“This purchase is huge for the city,” Short said. “I think this really will provide our police officers a better location for training…Just the modernization of this facility, the modern facility compared to where they are coming from. They were capped out in space and they have been for a number of years.”
Short said that the city is planning for the future.
“This facility is key to that future growth,” Short said. “We want to do all we can to make sure the citizens feel safe we that we have services that meet their standards.”
Choat said once the current training building is vacated by police, the city hopes to build a new City Hall in its place.
“We want to design a whole new building there,” Choat said. “We would put a new City Hall right there, as far as the admin side and leave the other building for police, fire and courts and just build an administrative office.”
The mayor said talks of a new City Hall have been ongoing in order to bring the city up-to-date with the rest of the development and growth happening in Trussville.
The current police training facility, located beside City Hall, at 129 Main Street, in Trussville, is outdated. However, the new building is state-of-the-art, Rush said.
“It’s needed for two reasons,” Rush said. “Patrol will be working out of there and it’s a huge upgrade from the old, worn facility that we are currently working out of. That’s a top-notch facility and the second thing is for the training. Right now, we are using a shared range with Irondale PD and scheduling is difficult because so many departments use that range. It will be much easier to schedule and convenient. The main thing is the advancement and the huge leap that this facility will take our department forward. That’s priceless. Having a facility like that, it’s really a world-class facility.”
Training that can be done in the building includes firearms training, defensive tactics, classroom training, and field tracking training.
As far as the use of the indoor shooting range at the facility, Rush when the former business was being operated, changes were made to ensure nearby residents were not disturbed. He said with police using the building, disruptions will be even more unlikely.
“That was an operational retail range and training facility so they always had somebody in there shooting, for the most part,” Rush explained. “And most of the issue they had with sound was fixed, except for certain rifles and we won’t be firing rifles like that in there.”
Rush said there will have to be some work done on the building, including secured fencing, cleaning, painting and possibly new floors. He hopes the training center can move into the building sometime in the next month.
More specialized units will be possible with the growth of the police department, Short added. He believes that could impact recruitment.
“As we continue to grow, I think that law enforcement officers throughout Jefferson County and really throughout the state are looking at Trussville as a department that they want to join,” Short said. “I think that with this building, and the city’s future growth track and our mayor and our chief planning for the future, I think that Trussville will continue to be a destination spot for law enforcement officers.”
If you are interested in joining the Trussville Police Department, you can fill out an application with the Jefferson County Personnel Board and with the city of Trussville.