Atlanta Police Academy to open temporary home at college rejected as training center siteThe campus of Atlanta Metropolitan State College as seen on its website.
The Atlanta Police Academy is set to reopen next week in its new home at Atlanta Metropolitan State College. The deal is a temporary solution while the City seeks to build a permanent public safety training center at a controversial site in DeKalb County after rejecting other options — including the college.
The former police academy site at 180 Southside Industrial Parkway was in poor condition, officials have said. AMSC says it is prepared to house the police academy on its campus at 1630 Metropolitan Parkway in Southwest Atlanta until the permanent training center is built, which it understands is about two years from now. As part of the deal, police officers’ training at AMSC will make them eligible for college course credits.
“This partnership with the Atlanta Police Department provides yet another way of supporting our mission through access to education and community engagement,” said AMSC president Dr. Georj Lewis in a written statement. “It creates a gateway for their officers to receive a college degree and offers several strategic options for APD personnel to obtain their degree.”
The college already offered continuing education programs for APD leadership and command staff, as well as hosting other metro Atlanta law enforcement groups for training conferences, according to Michael Montgomery, AMSC’s director of development and external affairs and executive director of its foundation.
It is unclear what the terms of the deal are for the police academy use of the campus, with AMSC and APD not immediately able to produce the contract. The academy is set to open the first week of August, AMSC said.
The former Atlanta Fire Rescue Department Academy sits just on the other side of I-75/I-85 from the AMSC campus. AFRD left that site last year after mold complaints and is now in a building on Clipper Drive near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The City, in partnership with the Atlanta Police Foundation and the Atlanta Fire Rescue Foundation, are now proposing a unified public safety training center at the former Atlanta Prison Farm. That’s a City-owned site within an unincorporated part of southwestern DeKalb County. Secretly developed and only recently unveiled to the public through news stories and two “listening sessions,” that plan has been enormously controversial for local community impacts and its clash with the City-approved vision for a massive system of interconnected parks called the South River Forest.
The Prison Farm site was chosen by the “Atlanta Public Safety Training Center Advisory Council,” a group of City administration officials and directors of the police and Fire Rescue foundations.
A site recommendations report from that council obtained by SaportaReport says that multiple unidentified sites were vetted for the training center, with three selected for “in-depth analysis.” Besides the Prison Farm, they included AMSC (called by its former name of Atlanta Metropolitan College or AMC) and Greenbrier Mall in Southwest Atlanta.
The report gives brief descriptions of pros and cons of those sites without any financial, engineering or architectural details. At AMSC, the report said, the positives included “the adjacency to an institute of higher learning, on-site fitness building with facilities, green space, on-site maintenance and facility support, virtually move-in ready, [and] ease of developing community partnerships.”
However, the report said, “there is not enough square-footage to accommodate all training needs, as well as the inability for AMC to serve as a long-term term solution.” According to the report, “During conversations with the AMC leadership responsible for facilities, it was articulated that … the only reasonable opportunity for utilization of space would only be on a temporary basis.”
“To my knowledge, there was never any discussions concerning the college becoming a permanent location for the training facility,” said Montgomery, the AMSC official, this week. But, he added, he could not immediately check with all relevant college officials.
Similar law enforcement training programs, including some police academies, operate at other University System of Georgia schools and technical colleges, AMSC noted.