New ‘state-of-the-art’ training facility for first responders planned for West Side

CHICAGO -- A nearly $100 million "state-of-the-art" facility on the West Side will simulate real-world scenarios to train first responders, according to details released by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other city leaders over the weekend.

Leaders also believe the facility will bring an economic boost to the area. For years Ald. Emma Mitts says she's been fighting for a piece of Chicago's economic growth to be built her ward that includes west Garfield Park.

"We are very excited today because we are making history," Mitts said Sunday. "We often said, 'when are we going to get that economic boost over here on the West Side?', now you got it."

The $96 million Public Safety Training Academy for both police and firefighters will be built on 30 acres of land near 4301 W. Chicago Ave. It will be big enough to mock up a two-flat, CTA trains and buses, and classrooms to study the latest techniques.

"It will include the resources we need to prepare for policing in the 21st century," said CPD Superintendent Kevin Navarro.

First responders will also lean how to work better with other departments.

"Now more than ever it's important that police, fire and EMS train together because so many cases we respond incidents that effect our community," said CFD Commisioner Jose Santiago.

Part of the money for the academy is coming from the sale of other city property. Mayor Rahm Emanuel, like the alderman, believes not only will the city's first responders be better trained, but also Chicago will become the destination for training for departments from nearby states.

"So it will be a real economic development; people from the suburbs come train here down stat,e come stay here for small fee; we will let people from Wisconsin, Indiana come train here," Emanuel said.

The mayor also believes this will help in security on the West Side of Chicago because there will be hundreds of police officers coming in and out of there on a daily basis.

The facility is expected to be up and running by 2020.