By Michelle Durham
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — City officials held a groundbreaking ceremony today for a new tactical training facility on the grounds of the Philadelphia Police Academy.
Among those turning a shovelful of dirt were Mayor Michael Nutter (second from right), deputy mayor for public safety Everett Gillison (center of phot0), and City Council members David Oh and Dennis O’Brien (far right).
They were there to break ground for the building which will be home to the police department’s SWAT, bomb squad, and K-9 units.
“By consolidating all three of these units in one location, we can optimize joint use of common support functions including classrooms, briefing rooms, locker, shower, and fitness areas,” the mayor said.
Deputy police commissioner Jack Gaittens, in charge of organizational support (second from left in photo), says the value of having all three units under one roof cannot be underestimated.
“The potential there is unlimited,” he tells KYW Newsradio, “just the conversations that happen in the hallway. There is such a synergy with having the people together in one building. When I was captain of the SWAT team, we had to coordinate: ‘We’re leaving 660 Erie,’ ‘They were coming from up here.’ We had to go down to the Navy Yard to join up, and then we had to have our briefings and plannings down there. Now they are in the same building. They can brief, they can plan, on a daily basis.”
The Philadelphia Police Department is the regional trainer in the area for canine, bomb squad, and squad operations, so this facility will also be used to train members of surrounding law enforcement communities as well.
The building is expected to be completed in July 2013.