WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. (CBS4) – Jefferson County Public Schools has turned an empty school into training headquarters for law enforcement.
Martenson Elementary School in Wheat Ridge hasn’t been used since 2011.
It is now a training facility named after Frank DeAngelis.
There law enforcement can train for situations like active shooter emergencies.
DeAngelis was the principal at Columbine High School in Arapahoe County during the Columbine Shootings in 1999. He’s now retired.
“This school was really developed to support law enforcement response,” said Director of Safety and Security at Jefferson County Public Schools John McDonald.
“This was an opportunity for us to say thank you and provide them a location where they can train and prepare for that next event that happens,” said McDonald.
The center was filled with cutting-edge technology including an active shooter training simulator.
“It’s state of the art. It allows an officer to go into a simulator and, through one of hundreds of scenarios, have a chance to train and prepare and use tactics and better understand decision-making skills in a crisis environment,” said McDonald.
McDonald says the facility is very life-like by emulating what classrooms in elementary, middle and high schools look like.
He says that also serves as a reminder for law enforcement of “who they are fighting for.”
The training also proves to be emotional for law enforcement. McDonald says it gives them a sense of empowerment.
“It gives them a sense of duty. I think this is a place where we check our egos at the door. We have some really tough conversations, and we’re not afraid to engage, talk about best practices and mistakes and lessons learned,” said McDonald.
This new facility is the first-of-its kind, already drawing attention from law enforcement agencies from across the country.
“This year, we’ve used it 157 days already. Training almost 4,000 police officers there,” said McDonald.
He adds the facility is free to use for any first responder who wants to train.
CBS4 reached out to DeAngelis for response to this facility being developed in his honor.
“I was deeply touched and honored to have a facility named after me and to be honest, I was completely shocked. It’s been 18 years since when 12 students lost their lives and Mr. Sanders and not a day goes by where I don’t think of them. Each day I wake up and I cite their names. I am passionate about school safety,” DeAngelis said.