Retired Texas Ranger GW Hildebrand gets a twinkle in his eye when he talks about Austin Community College’s new Hays Criminal Justice and Emergency Training facility in Kyle.
A former state trooper, FBI profiler and Texas Ranger, Hildebrand now heads ACC’s Criminal Justice Department and gave a tour of the new facility to area officials and business leaders.
The closest facility with even comparable training capabilities is as far away as the Dallas-Fort Worth area or Texas A&M.
It took years to get such a facility on the radar, and to be built in Kyle, he said.
Phase II of the ACC campus will open this fall and is the latest portion of the community college to be funded by bonds.
Hildebrand said that his former boss and mentor with ACC told him to keep asking for a vehicle training track, gun range and more.
“You won’t get it, but keep asking,” he said his mentor told him.
But Hildebrand kept pushing the idea and said, “They (the voters) can’t say yes if you don’t ask.”
The new facility will include a building set aside just for classes and emergency operations, a 19-acre driving track, and a state of the art gun range.
The 19-acre Emergency Vehicle Operations course has a skid pad to simulate a vehicle sliding, banks on the curves and railroad crossing tracks, and various other training paths. The course will be open for training local law enforcement.
Dale Toler, criminal justice professor and a retired sergeant with the Austin Police Department, including SWAT, bomb squad and hostage negotiations, talked about how the track will enhance local law enforcement and emergency departments.
“Nobody has a track like this,” he said. “Most of your law enforcement people have visited and they’re all drooling over this track.”
Another feature that has the ACC staff members all atwitter is the gun range. The range includes shooting lanes with ballistic steel roof plates and 14 inch concrete walls so that no bullets escape. In addition, ACC put in an air-filtration system that cleans the air 99.97% before it is exhausted from the building. The facility also has a bullet capture system to make sure that all the lead from bullets is captured.
Hays County Emergency Management coordinator Kharley Smith and Precinct 2 Commission Mark Jones viewed the new emergency management facility with thoughts that, should the county need to, it might be able to run any emergency in the northern end of the county from the ACC campus.
The Emergency Management program being taught at ACC will include the “meat and potatoes level of what you’re going to be doing in the field,” said Nate Zaleski, who is in charge of the new program.
The classroom viewed by Smith and Jones included 5 operations screens, a tiered working/classroom environment, wiring for computers and phones and more.
Zaleski said the idea behind the classroom was to make sure that students graduating would understand what was expected of them when they graduated.
Finally, the Kyle facility will also include a new EMT certificate program starting in August.
Classes at ACC begin Aug. 27. Registration is currently going on.