VALHALLA, NY — County Executive Robert P. Astorino today unveiled the newly renovated Westchester County Police Academy following a $9.3 million overhaul to upgrade training facilities and create a new state-of-the-art forensic crime lab.
“This capital project is about much more than bricks and mortar,” Astorino said. “It is about ensuring that police recruits and veteran officers can receive the best training possible for decades to come. It is about ensuring that our crime lab has the sophisticated tools and technology to meet the evolving demands of modern-day policing. It is about ensuring we are doing all we can to keep our people safe.”
Astorino, who proposed the capital project in 2014, was joined at the ceremony by Public Safety Commissioner George N. Longworth and chiefs and commissioners from multiple departments in the county.
Longworth noted that the academy is used by all police departments in Westchester to train their recruits to become police officers. Veteran officers return for lectures, seminars, supervisor school and other significant training throughout their careers. The county police crime lab is also utilized by all law enforcement in Westchester to process evidence and assist with criminal investigation and prosecution, he said.
“This capital project is an investment that pays dividends to every city, town and village police department in Westchester along with the county police,” Longworth said.
The Westchester County Police Academy, located at 2 Dana Road in Valhalla, was built in 1986. The building was shared by the New York National Guard and the Westchester County Department of Public Safety until the Guard vacated in 2011.
Under the recent capital project, the roof, boiler and windows at the 50,000-square foot structure were replaced. The HVAC, lighting, fire alarm and sprinkler systems were upgraded and made more energy-efficient.
To enhance instruction and training, upgrades were made to the Police Academy classrooms, computer room and drill floor. Sophisticated audio-visual equipment was obtained for use by instructors to enhance learning and training. Classrooms 2 and 3 can now be opened up into a single, large room, which will enable the academy to host larger-scale lectures or training than previously.
“Sometimes we had to turn people away because a class was filled to capacity,” Longworth said. “Now we have the means to accommodate everyone when that occurs.”
In addition, an interactive training area was created off the drill floor to enhance training that recruits and tactical teams receive. The hallway-like setting enables scenario-based training for making entry into rooms or buildings and handling crisis-intervention situations and active-shooter incidents. An outdoor interactive training area and obstacle course is also being created on the academy grounds to improve physical and tactical training.
The county police Forensic Investigation Unit, which operates the crime lab, was relocated from police headquarters in Hawthorne to the academy building. The expanded space will permit the crime lab to meet the evolving and rigorous standards required by its accrediting agency – The American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board.
“Westchester County has always been a leader in utilizing forensic investigation to solve crime and hold criminals accountable,” Astorino said. “The new crime lab ensures that we can keep that commitment well into the future.”
The crime lab is the only one in New York State to be ASCLAD-accredited in the following five disciplines:
- Firearms (Ballistics)
- Crime Scene Investigation
- Latent Print Comparison
- Latent Print Processing
- Digital Evidence/Computer Forensics