Location on South Dallas Government Center campus encourages cadet recruitment
Dallas-Fort Worth, TX design firm KAI tapped into its extensive education, public safety and recreation design experience to deliver a new, state-of-the-art Dallas County Sheriff’s Academy.
Completed in July 2021, the 27,000-square-foot academy serves as the main training facility for both sworn peace officers and cadets in the County’s academy. The Dallas County Sheriff’s Department, Constables and Dallas County Hospital District Police Department will all utilize this academy as the training ground for their initial and continuing education needs. It is located on the southern end of a 12-acre campus at the corner of Wheatland Road and Polk Street, which is also home to the new KAI-designed South Dallas Government Center.
“Transparency and the evolution of 21st century policing is at the forefront of the media and is in direct focus of the public lens. Dallas County wisely integrated its Sheriff’s Training Academy into its newly constructed South Dallas Government Center campus,” said KAI Principal Derwin Broughton, AIA, NCARB. “The architecture and interaction of the two facilities play off one another but serve two very distinct purposes coexisting harmoniously on a single site. The design team was mindful and sensitive towards the vulnerability of sworn peace officers and cadets in a public setting and employed the necessary threat deterrence measures to provide for a safe and secure environment. Flexible and multi-use of the instructional spaces allows for the academy to provide a broad range of training for its officers and to surrounding law enforcement agencies.”
The new, state-of-the-art academy includes three, 50-seat terraced lecture halls with instructor observation rooms and two flexible classrooms large enough to accommodate 50-100 cadets. Classrooms are equipped with digital technology to provide for multi-sensory instruction. The progression of the cadets through the academy is integrated into the design of the facility to help produce well-trained, highly skilled and ethical public servants. It also houses an on-site computer lab designed to meet testing standards required by certifying agencies. All the academy’s administrative functions are located within a dedicated office suite.
Separate restroom and shower/locker room facilities are also provided, in addition to a 2,000-square-foot gymnasium complete with free weights, cardiovascular machines and an open area for tactile training. The walls and floors are lined with impact sensitive materials to absorb the physical maneuvers required to facilitate this type of training. Other amenities include roll-up doors opening to an open lawn area for CrossFit training and a running and bike trail that encompasses the full perimeter of the building.
The old facility was in an isolated area adjacent to several county and state correctional facilities, housed within a windowless, pre-engineered metal building that did not meet the short- or long-term needs of the academy. The new facility also serves as a recruitment tool for new cadets into the law enforcement pathway. Moving the academy into public view provides some degree of natural exposure, while also actively serving as an active outreach tool for engagement, retention and recruitment.
Minority participation on the project exceeded all goals through use of a 100 percent minority finance firm (SIR Capital), African American-owned design firm (KAI) and 50 percent minority general contractor joint venture (Source Building Group/Satterfield & Pontikes Construction). Additionally, the building’s construction included a collaboration with the Regional Black Contractors Association and its “Second Chance” workforce program which trained men and women who have been part of the criminal justice system to learn new transferable job skills utilized by the contractors on the project job site.
Photography by Wade Griffith