College of DuPage’s Homeland Security program will soon be getting bigger.
The COD Board approved beginning the second phase of work on the center, which includes the college’s Criminal Justice and Fire Science programs as well as the Suburban Law Enforcement Academy, one of five police academies in Illinois.
COD President Robert Breuder told the board that undertaking the project “makes sense to me,” stressing that completing the second phase of the project was what the college told the community concerning its plans when the Homeland Security Education Center was built in 2011.
Total cost of the expansion has been estimated at $16 million, to be paid for from the funds raised by a $168 million referendum passed by voters in 2010.
Proceeds from the referendum were slated for several projects, including the renovation of the McAninch Arts Center, the Physical Education Center and construction of the Campus Maintenance Center.
“We’ve done all those projects,” Breuder said. “The Homeland Security Training Institute has been our goal all along.”
The plans are to put the project out for bid in the spring, and to see the new addition completed and ready for operation in the summer of 2015.
The new Homeland Security Training Center will sit adjacent to the Homeland Security Education Center and boast a 35,000-square-foot facility with four multi-use classrooms, four scenario simulators and a 25-station, 50-yard shooting range in the basement.
The building will help COD solidify its place as the foremost institution of law enforcement education in the Midwest, college officials said.
In addition to providing more space and a firing range for the Suburban Law Enforcement Training Academy, whose students currently have to travel to the Joliet area for range time, the facility will provide space for three growing courses of study: emergency management and disaster preparedness, polygraph examiners and personnel for 911 dispatch call centers.
Revenue from the academy has grown from about $223,000 to $718,000 since the Homeland Security Education Center opened.
The college also plans to rent out the shooting range to some of Illinois’ 19,000 law enforcement officers. The goal is to capture 25 percent of the business of police officers, who are mandated to keep their shooting skills sharp through regular practice and qualifying exercises.
COD Executive Vice President Joseph Collins echoed Breuder’s comments about the college keeping its promise to build the second phase, saying that phase two “was always part of the original plan,” and noted that enrollment in the college’s Homeland Security programs has “swelled” since the center opened.
Before the board unanimously approved two action items for the expansion, one for an architect and one for construction management, Trustee Nancy Svoboda asked it there had been any concern or input from the community regarding a firing range occupying part of the campus.
“The reality is that we’re safer as a community with law enforcement on campus,” said Joseph Cassidy, dean of Continuing Education.
He also stressed that the range was underground.
“If you’re outside, you don’t see it and you don’t know about it,” he said.
Collins said that he had received no negative input from any community members about the range. He also pointed out that with the recently-passed concealed carry law in Illinois, some presence of firearms on campus would be an inevitable part of the future.
“It’s out of our hands,” he said.
Trustee Kim Savage asked the timeline involved, raising the possibility of waiting a month to vote on the expansion. But Breuder saw no reason to delay, saying that he had faith in the team that had put the plan together.
“To me this is an absolute no-brainer,” he said. “What’s going to change?”