LVMPD Reality-Based Training Center will be able to simulate mass shootings for training

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Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo in attendance of the ribbon cutting ceremony for LVMPD Reality Based Training Center, on Oct. 1. Photo by Jimmy Romo.

On the four year anniversary of the 1 October shooting anniversary, Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Reality-Based Training Center. 

Phase I of the training center is set to open next month as they have received almost $19 million of the $25 million requested, according to Tom Kovach, executive director of the LVMPD Foundation. The ribbon-cutting ceremony was reserved for the significant date since the facility will have mass shooting simulations, like that of the 1 October shooting. 

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo cuts the ribbon to the LVMPD Reality Based Training Center with private funders on Oct. 1. Photo by Jimmy Romo.

“My heart was full of joy because originally we were told this will never be done,” Kevin McMahill, LVMPD retired undersheriff, said. “I have to tell you that this is going to be the single largest game changer when it comes to training our police officers, that has ever happened, not only here in Las Vegas, but in this country.” 

First responders of all departments will be able to train the new 56,000 square-foot facility. Police, firefighters, paramedics and private security personnel will be able to soon train in the first phase of the training center. 

“I was very proud of him [McMahill] pushing back on me,” Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said. “We knew we had to make some adjustments to address regional training, post 1 October, and how police departments conduct themselves into the future because of the changing threat.”

The sheriff also makes a point that the private sector security becomes a force multiplier for the police department in a time of need. 

“We would be done with our $25 million goal had a certain tragic event not happened last year, that was the killing of George Floyd,” Kovach said. 

Kovach points out that a funder pulled out a $5 million commitment citing it could be a reputational risk. Many Minneapolis funders sent a letter to their local police department and requested 36 actions be taken in a letter. 

“We were able to get a copy of that letter,” Kovach said. “We shared that with the police department and we were able to tell them that our police department had already done 35 of those 36 things, and the 36 was outside their jurisdiction.” 

He wanted to make it clear that by supporting training for police officers doesn’t risk someone’s reputation. 

Marilyn Kirkpatrick and Kris McGarry around the entrance of the first building with the hard hats to enter the open-construction site. Photo by Jimmy Romo.

The project is exclusively funded by private funding and no tax dollars went to the facility.

Taking a look inside the building, there will be no live fire in the simulations requiring trainees to declare all weapons at the entrance, according to Andy Locher, UNLV alumni and LVMPD project manager of emergency training.

“Safety, that’s the number one thing you’re gonna see throughout the building,” Locher said in a guided tour. He points out that every year, two to three training instructors a year lose students or lose their own lives.

After trainees declare their fire-arms, they will go down the main hallway that will hold the names of the donors on the walls leading right into another hallway lined with classrooms. 

In the hallway, trainees will be able to pick up their “blue gear,” which is specifically for training. Gear will be determined by the simulation that will be run or lecture. 

“One of the underlying thought processes when we drew all this, was to have as many people in here, 24 hours a day, seven-days a week as possible,” Locher said. “We want a high occupancy rate in this building. I would like nothing more than to see no breaks at all.”

Seeing as the first building is nearly completed, the second building was not ready to tour. The second building of phase I would have large scale simulations, like a hockey arena, gas station, bank, casino floor, football stadium and more simulations.

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