• Tue. Dec 6th, 2022

Texas DPS files for $1.2 billion training facility months after Uvalde massacre

ByRobin H. Purcell

Nov 23, 2022

Ninety-one DPS soldiers responded to the Robb Elementary shooting.

TEXAS, U.S. — The Texas Department of Public Safety requested a new training facility that could cost taxpayers $1.2 billion. As first reported by the Texas Tribune, DPS Director Steven McCraw, who described the response to Robb’s shooting as a law enforcement failure, made the request last month.

Activist groups in Uvalde say this doesn’t matter when it comes to restoring shattered trust in law enforcement.

“You have to play as you practice,” said Director McCraw, opening his remarks during an Oct. 4 hearing before the Texas House of Representatives.

Principal McCraw proposed constructing the new building on their Williamson County campus, which is only seven years old.

“What we don’t have out there is we don’t have a live scenario facility to do the kind of training that soldiers, not just soldiers, but local police officers and deputy sheriffs need, too,” McCraw said.

Angela Villescaz from the activist group Fierce Madres does not get the application.

“These were special kids, so special, and they’re gone, and these men were trained,” Villescaz is unsure of the training being applied to real-world scenarios.

Investigative reports into Robb’s murder say nearly 400 officers, including 91 DPS soldiers, waited 77 minutes to confront the gunman.

“Even if you are in an amazing facility, what will stop [DPS Captain Joel] Preventing Betancourt from making a call and telling his soldiers not to go in,” Villescaz said, referring to a previous report that a DPS captain held his men back.

According to the documents in the Texas DPS Legislative Appropriation Request, there is no such entity in Texas. The document said current facilities “lack the capacity” to provide training.

The proposal is to build a two-story “tactical training house” with multiple entry points and rooms that can be reconfigured. It allows day and night training. The request is made in phases. The first phase, which will cost $466 million, will include the infrastructure, utilities, firing range mess and dormitories for the recruits.

Located in Williamson County just north of Austin, the facility only opened in 2015. The new building on the campus would be a long-term expense.

“The first deposit [$466 million] If you will, our focus, as I mentioned, is that the live scenario training facility is state-of-the-art and has immediate support,” McCraw said during the hearing.

None of the committee members, including the Legislative Budget Committee and staff from the Governor’s Office, asked McCraw questions about the facility. KENS 5 contacted DPS for supporting documents but we have not received a response.

Villescaz says the Uvalde community is unlikely to react well to the news.

“This will just be a nice facility to train more officers who may still be unresponsive,” Villescaz believes.