VALHALLA, N.Y. - Following a near $10 million renovation at the County Police Academy, Westchester residents can rest easy at night knowing that the crews tasked with catching criminals in the county are operating out of one of the country’s top facilities.
On Tuesday, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino joined Public Safety Commissioner George N. Longworth at the state-of-the-art police academy to unveil renovations, upgrades to the training grounds and a brand new forensic crime lab.
Astorino, who proposed the $9.3 million capital project in 2014, said that he hopes the renovations will benefit the academy for decades moving forward.
“Today’s officer must be equipped to deal with cyber threats, terrorism and other emerging threats. We need facilities that can meet the demands for 21st century investigations,” he said. “This is just the continuation of the unwavering commitment from he county toward protecting its residents. Today is the first day of returns of our $9.3 million investment.”
The police academy in Valhalla will benefit officers in every municipality in the county. The renovations included upgrades classrooms, computer rooms and the drill floor. There are interacting training rooms that can be adjusted for select situations and the crime lab features state-of-the-art equipment and technology that is already paying dividends for forensic experts.
Additionally, the department is now utilizing a 3-D laser camera that makes a series of scans to create three-dimensional rendering of what happened at a crime or accident scene.
According to Longworth, with the renovation complete, the crime lab at the Westchester County Police Academy is the only one in the state to meet “the evolving and rigorous standards required by the American Society Crime Laboratory Directors / Laboratory Accreditation Board” in all five required disciplines: firearms; crime scene investigation; latent print comparison; latent print processing and digital evidence or computer forensics.
“All of the equipment helps us to connect the dots, so to speak. The technology really rises to the expectations Hollywood has created with some of those shows,” Sgt. James Harrison, the lab director, noted. “This equipment is going to be the gold standard of what’s expected from an investigation in the future.”
Astorino noted that these latest improvements are not the last that should be expected at the academy moving forward, adding that the county “has always been a leader in utilizing forensic investigation to solve crime and hold criminals accountable.”
“What was once a specific specialty is now what we teach every recruit, because they are our first line of defense on the street,” he said. “Call it CSI: Westchester. If a crime happens here, we can handle it start to finish. Basically, we can do it all right here now.”
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