Tarrant County amends law enforcement training center study to examine lower cost options

Madeleine Cook/

Tarrant County will look at more options for training its sheriff’s office employees beyond building a training center like what was originally planned, commissioners decided at their Tuesday meeting.

Commissioner Alisa Simmons was the only vote against the proposal.

Tarrant County leaders have been discussing building a training center since March, when commissioners approved a feasibility study to look into the matter.

Commissioner Manny Ramirez said a center with a firing range would cost $60 million to $75 million.

The amended feasibility study will now look into three new options for training sheriff’s deputies and detention officers.

Among those options are keeping training operations at the sheriff’s office center at the Resource Connection in southwest Fort Worth. That plan would include renovating or expanding the building to meet programming needs and possibly building a firing range.

Another is blending training at the Resource Connection and the law enforcement center at the Tarrant County College District Northwest Campus. As a part of that plan, commissioners would also evaluate building an indoor firing range at the TCC campus.

The last option is moving training operations from the Resource Connection to the TCC Northwest Campus, as well as expanding the Northwest Criminal Justice Center and the Northwest Police Firing Range to include shared meeting and training spaces, an indoor gun range, mock village, mock jail cells, weight room, classrooms, lockers and restrooms, according to agenda documents.

The changes to the study’s scope will cost taxpayers another $120,798.

Simmons wanted to delay the vote until commissioners received a presentation on the new plans. County administrator Chandler Merritt said the item needed to move forward, citing the timeline for spending federal money the county plans to use on the project.

County leaders put $11 million from the American Rescue Plan toward building a new training center Sept. 5. The county has until Dec. 1, 2024, to determine where it will use the $408 million it received and until Dec. 1, 2026, to spend it.