On Wednesday, Nov. 14. Marana celebrated the opening of its new police station, filled with advanced training technology, forensics labs and multiple facilities the previous facilities lacked, including kennels for K-9 officers, a firing range and a vehicle lift.
“It’s hard to believe that 16 months ago, this was a dirt lot.” said Marana Police Deputy Chief Reuben Nunez at the Nov. 14 ribbon-cutting. “What really strikes me is how well this building fits the entire campus.”
The new Town of Marana Police Facility is located in the Marana Municipal Complex, 11555 Civic Center Drive. The dedication ceremony featured several members from the Marana government and Town Council, representatives from multiple local first responder organizations and the projects’ architects.
“None of this would have been possible if not for the overwhelming support of our community.” Nunez said.
Many members of the Marana police department pointed to the favorable view the town residents have of the police as reasoning for the new station being built with ease.
“Because the officers provide such unparalleled service, we didn’t get any pushback on this project whatsoever, and that’s huge,” said Marana Police Chief Terry Rozema.
The $23 million building was paid for via a half-cent sales tax, approved by the community and passed by the Town Council. Through this method, Marana has no debt to pay off for the station’s construction.
“What I’m really proud of is, you see this beautiful building, and we own it,” said Marana Mayor Ed Honea. “It’s paid for, free and clear.”
Now that the police department is funded and finished, the town council will remove the sales tax. Nunez called this move “the definition of responsible government.”
The project broke ground June 7, 2017, and was a collaborative project between the Town of Marana, Abacus Project Management, Architekton and CORE Construction.
The new station features an entire training wing: a firing range with customizable lights to simulate different real-world scenarios, a walk-in armory and a virtual-reality training simulator. The station also has its own vehicle lift for officers to examine cars for evidence, something they once had to go off-sight to do. There is also an enclosed fingerprint processing unit, whereas at the old station forensic analysts had to work with their chemicals in the parking lot.
One of the largest upgrades are the kennels for the K-9 officers. At the previous station, officers had to often leave their dogs back at home, making it difficult to quickly deploy the asset.
“This facility is all of your ideas, all we did is put it together,” said Michael Rosso, the project’s architect. “You’ve got quality, dedicated officers here in Marana.”
Chief Rozema described when he realized Marana needed a new police station: When he first entered the old station he saw a suspect handcuffed to bench made of wooden planks, while the station’s officers were holding a briefing only a few paces away and local senior citizens were preparing for a Zumba class within eyesight.
“When we started this project, I had an idea about how it would be, but nothing could have prepared me for how amazing this facility truly is,” Rozema said.
Possibly the most fascinating tool in Marana Police’s new department is its VirTra V-300 training simulator, an immersive firearms training program where officers are faced with five wall-size screens wrapping 300 degrees around them. On screen, multiple scenarios can play out requiring the officers to quickly shoot attackers, decide which direction to move in and respond to characters.
“This is a great training opportunity for our officers because it’s so climate controlled,” said Sgt. Chriswell Scott, MPD Public Information Officer.
Numerous cameras in the training simulator record the officer’s movements and weapon-accuracy, and playing back past scenarios allows for the officers to examine exactly where their bullets flew and when assailants on screen shot them.
The $250,000 system even allows for officers to be connected to stun gun-like devices, so they can feel when and where they’re shot. The electric responses are not meant to replicate the feel of a gunshot, but to inform the officers they were hit, yet be distressing enough to affect their accuracy and response time.
When fired, the training pistols include realistic recoil via compressed air canisters. Officers can even replace the bullets in their own guns with training canisters, so they can train with the exact same gun they use in the field.
“Just like going to Dave and Busters,” Scott said, laughing.