TEXAS, USA — The Texas Department of Public Safety made a request for a new training facility, and it could cost taxpayers $1.2 billion. As first reported by the Texas Tribune, DPS Director Steven McCraw, who called the response to the Robb shooting a failure of law enforcement, made the request last month.
Activist groups in Uvalde feel that won’t matter in terms of repairing the broken trust with law enforcement.
“You have to play like you practice,” said Director McCraw, who opened his remarks during an October 4 hearing in front of the Texas House of Representatives.
Director McCraw proposed the new building would be constructed on their Williamson County campus, which is only seven years old.
“What we don’t have out there is, we don’t have a live scenario facility, to be able do the type of training that troopers, not just troopers, but local police officers and deputy sheriffs need,” McCraw said.
The request doesn’t sit will with Angela Villescaz of the activist group Fierce Madres.
“Those were special kids, so special, and they’re gone, and these men were trained,” Villescaz is unsure any training will be applied in real life scenarios.
Investigative reports into the Robb shooting state nearly 400 officers, including 91 DPS troopers, waited 77 minutes to confront the shooter.
“Even if you’re in an amazing facility, what’s going to stop [DPS Captain Joel] Betancourt from making a call and telling his troopers not to go in,” Villescaz said, referring to a previous report that a DPS captain held his men back.
According to documents in Texas DPS’ legislative appropriations request, there’s no such facility that exists in Texas. The document states that current facilities “lack the capacity” to deliver training.
The proposal is to build a two-story “tactical training house” with multiple entry points and rooms that can be reconfigured. It will allow for daytime and nighttime training. The request will be made in phases. The first phase, costing $466 million, will include the infrastructure, utilities, firing range baffling and dorms for recruits.
The facility at Williamson County north of Austin just opened in 2015. The new building on the campus would be a long-term expense.
“The first down payment [$466 million] if you will, will focus on, as I talked about, the live scenario training facility, is state of the art that will support right off the bat,” McCraw said during the hearing.
None of the committee members, including the legislative budget board and staff from the Governor’s office, asked questions about the facility to McCraw. KENS 5 reached out to DPS for supporting documents, but we have not heard back.
Villescaz says the Uvalde community likely won’t react well to the news.
“This is just going to be a beautiful facility to train more officers who, they still may not react,” Villescaz believes.