Legislators, business leaders and officials turned out Monday to officially open the new Northcentral Technical College Public Safety Center in Merrill.
The new facility features a state-of-the-art automated simulation shooting village that can train officers in life fire scenarios, a refurbished burn tower for fire safety training, a specially designed driving track for teaching advanced driving techniques to officers and firefighters, and a rural-styled driving course to help train officers on driving night-time curvy roads.
NTC Dean of Public Safety Bryce Kolpack says that the training offered in Merrill won’t be found anywhere else in the area. “It’s the ability to train our students in realistic, real life situations.” He says many students leave NTC and go off immediately to other posts in the public safety professions, and students need to be as prepared as possible to take action if need be.
NTC president Lori Weyers says her staff are already getting requests to use the facility. “That’s from police and fire departments, we’ve got requests from Homeland Security and the Department of Justice.” She says all of those people coming to Merrill to train will be a boon not only for the local economy, but for the public.
Future expansions of the site will include specialized outdoor training areas in the nearby woods for wardens and conservation officers for the DNR and other agencies, as well as an indoor shooting range.