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Pennsylvania’s High-End Police Academy Breaks Ground

The law enforcement training facility will cost as much as $350 million. It will include 300 single-person dorms, an auditorium, gymnasiums, a firing range, a stable and more. Construction is expected to finish in 2028.

Taking part in the groundbreaking are, from left, Department of General Services Secretary Reggie McNeil, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Col. Christopher L. Paris, Gov. Josh Shapiro and Lt. Gov. Austin Davis
Taking part in the groundbreaking are, from left, Department of General Services Secretary Reggie McNeil, Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Col. Christopher L. Paris, Gov. Josh Shapiro and Lt. Gov. Austin Davis. A groundbreaking ceremony is held for a new Pennsylvania State Police Academy in Hershey. December 18, 2023.
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The Pennsylvania State Police Academy has had a presence in the Hershey area for nearly a century. The academy, which is located on Hersheypark Drive in Derry Township was founded in 1924.

Now, the state is planning to construct new facilities and fully modernize the academy.

Officials including Gov. Josh Shapiro broke ground Monday on a new Pennsylvania State Police Academy, while unveiling design plans for the new world-class law enforcement training facility. The ceremony included Lt. Gov. Austin Davis, Department of General Services Secretary Reggie McNeil and Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Colonel Christopher Paris.

“The new Pennsylvania State Police Academy will be a state-of-the-art facility second to none in the country that will give cadets hands-on learning opportunities that will better prepare them for service in our communities,” Shapiro said. “I firmly believe that every Pennsylvanian deserves to be safe and feel safe in their community.

Plans for the academy call for a five-story building with 300 single-person dorm rooms, indoor tactical village training, a 500-person auditorium, two gymnasiums, a training tank, medical facilities and a weight room.

Also the facility will include a 2-story Bureau of Emergency Special Operations headquarters and kennel with parking for all of its equipment; a stable for a mounted unit; outdoor tactical training area; indoor 25-lane firing range; a central supply warehouse that is moving from Derry Street; a running track; a walking path and a six-bay garage for the museum to store its antique vehicles.

“Updated facilities and amenities are long overdue here at the Pennsylvania State Police Academy, the nation’s premier law enforcement training facility,” Paris said. “The new academy will support the highest level of instruction for cadets, troopers, and our law enforcement partners.”

Lt. Col. George Bivens, superintendent of the academy, told the Derry Township Planning Board that the project will cost $250 million to $350 million, according to meeting minutes.

Bivens told the board that the state is modernizing and replacing the training facility that opened in 1960 because police work has changed a lot in the last 65 years. The facility had been built to accommodate a smaller, all-male training class. Most of what was done was classroom training and then the troopers were taught additional skills in the field after graduation but today it is necessary to have the troopers be fully trained prior to graduation, he told the board.

The project is expected to take at least four years. Phase I of the project will include construction as well as demolition of existing buildings.

The existing academy will remain operational throughout construction, which is scheduled to begin immediately. The project includes demolition of several existing structures and is expected to be complete in 2028.

Next year marks 100 years of training recruits in Hershey. The Pennsylvania State Highway Patrol secured the use of the former Hershey Inn, on Cocoa Avenue, from Milton S. Hershey and began training there in 1924. The Highway Patrol merged with the State Police in 1937. The training school remained at the Cocoa Avenue site until 1960.

A new site drive will extend north from the main academy complex to Kieffer Road, where a new driveway and warehouse will be located. Another part of the project will connect the lands of the the academy property for a total tract area of 146.3 acres. The existing Pennsylvania State Police Historical, Educational, and Memorial Center to will remain.

DGS awarded a $205.5 million general construction contract to Wohlsen Construction Company, of Lancaster; a $37 million HVAC contract to Midline Mechanical, LLC, of Ephrata; a $35.7 million electrical contract to The Farfield Company, of Lititz; and a $20.1 million plumbing contract to Jay R Reynolds, Inc., of Willow Street. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP is the design professional.

In the 2023-24 budget, Shapiro secured new funding for four trooper cadet classes to train 384 new troopers, filling staffing gaps.

In August, Shapiro and Paris announced that the PSP would remove the college credit requirement for Pennsylvanians who want to serve as state troopers to expand opportunity for individuals seeking careers as state troopers. In the two months following that announcement, the PSP saw a 258 percent increase in applicants taking the test to become state troopers.

©2023 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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