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City awaits architectural input for Public Safety Training Center project with indoor shooting range

The City of Dickinson is looking at a future Public Safety Training Center — an estimated $19 million project that would potentially be “the regional hub for training” for southwest North Dakota’s law enforcement agencies and fire departments as well as other agencies across the state and into northern South Dakota.

City of Dickinson Public Safety Center is pictured.
The City of Dickinson Public Safety Center, pictured above, houses the city's fire and police departments. The city is currently in discussions on how a future Public Safety Training Center will benefit local emergency responders and what that site will look like.
Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press

DICKINSON — Over the past year, the City of Dickinson has had several discussions centering on the topic of a future public safety facility that would be the “regional hub for training” in southwest North Dakota. Those discussions have now expanded into current architectural planning.

In previous City of Dickinson public meetings, commissioners and city staff discussed what they had envisioned for the Public Safety Training Center. The commission authorized a $30,000 architecture and exploration fee to retrieve data on what this project could look like, City Administrator Brian Winningham said during the Jan. 18 commission meeting.

The estimated $19 million project — which is tentative to change over the course of planning and design — would be a fully funded Public Safety Training Center that includes training for police and fire and an indoor public shooting range, Winningham said.

“These are all predecisional bits of information and we’ve asked the architects and the contractor to look at different types of phasing and whether we can phase the process out,” Winningham said, adding, “We’ve also considered the site location, which is our current fire training area just to the south of Eighth and State.”

Commissioner John Odermann asked whether city staff has explored the option to incorporate a public indoor shooting range.

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“In a lot of larger cities, those can be kind of an additional recreation type element for the community (and) open to the public, but also maybe kind of a little bit of an enterprise type of element there. You’re selling ammo, you’re selling different things out of that range,” Odermann said. “Have we looked into the business model of anything like that in other cities?”

Winningham agreed, saying, “One of the considerations for having the architects that we approved was they have done this in multiple cities throughout the U.S. And one of the things that they were able to show us is they were doing marketing for that specific business model.”

Architects have looked at similar-like public safety training facilities in Minnesota and Michigan with that public recreation model in mind, Winningham said, explaining that that data will be provided at the Feb. 1 commission meeting. The city is also looking at conducting its own public survey to see how much of a need there is for an indoor shooting range, he said.

Mayor Scott Decker noted that Stark County has expressed their support for this project. Once the architects determine what the final estimates of this project will be, Decker said it would be vital to reach out to other law enforcement agencies in Billings and Dunn counties as well as the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the North Dakota Army National Guard.

“I think those could all be beneficial and generate some other needed revenue to help bring this forward,” Decker said. “From the get-go, I’ve always said this has to be a pubic shooting range because there is a need. And I can tell you if we survey the public, I think there will be an overwhelming want for some lane time.”

While the training center will focus on meeting the demands of local emergency responders, Odermann noted that it’s important to also look at other key players.

“I think from a funding standpoint, you could make a pretty strong case for the eight-county area, but also expand that out outside of our southwest corner here because wouldn’t it be best to train our law enforcement in our own backyard?” Odermann said. “... I think northern South Dakota and all the way over maybe to Bismarck (with) something like this, you can make a strong argument for those counties to help fund something like this because they’re going to benefit in the long run.”

Dickinson firefighter Jared Rhode, left, and a recruit.
Dickinson firefighter Jared Rhode, left, an instructor for Firefighter 1 Academy, helps a young recruit during the knot-tutorial portion of the course.
Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press

The architecture firm LEO A DALY , which is based out of Minneapolis, focuses on public safety training centers, Winningham noted. As the city looks at potential indoor uses of this project, he noted that this center would also help sustain Dickinson’s “world-class training” as is seen with Firefighter 1 Academy and law enforcement courses both featured at Dickinson High School and Dickinson State University.

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“Our police and fire, with the limited numbers that we have, they do so many things that are unseen… In order to be successful, they have to have a high level of training and it’s often hard to go out and do that training in other places. So this goes in line with what we’re going to talk about during the Commission Retreat for a strategic look at being the regional hub for training that we would bring others into this location for police and fire that I think we would become the regional hub," he added.

The Feb. 1 City of Dickinson public meeting will take place at 38 First St. W. in the new City Hall .

A K-9 of the Dickinson Police Department is pictured.
A K-9 of the Dickinson Police Department works with his handler.
Jackie Jahfetson / The Dickinson Press

Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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