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Lambton Mall store repurposed as police training centre

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Troy Shantz

Sarnia Police says their new training facility at the Lambton Mall will be among the best in Southern Ontario.

The former Tepperman’s store is being renovated into an 8,500-square-foot centre expected to open this fall.

“In today’s era of policing, you simply cannot have a professional police force without a facility to train them in,” said chief training officer, Const. Shawn Osbourne, adding it will rival anything available in Windsor and London.

The Sarnia Police Tactical and Academic Training Centre will have a 30-person classroom, a gym area with padded floors and walls, and a simulation zone with movable walls that can be configured according to various scenarios.

The five-year lease is $4,975 per month, or almost $60,000 a year, plus $300 a month for utilities.

But the space can be rented out, said Osbourne, noting there’s been interest from several police services outside Sarnia-Lambton.

And because a significant amount of senior officer training can now be done in-house, it will save about $25,000 per year, the service says.

Sarnia Police has already been renting half the space since May of 2017 but found more room was needed.

Every city police officer takes a minimum of 40 hours of training a year covering academics, practical skills, defensive tactics, safety, and police vehicle operation, Osbourne said.

In addition, depending on the job, they also take specialized courses in subjects like investigation practices and tactical skills.

Ontario police standards are among the highest in North America, he said.

“When I started we never trained to have to deal with an active killer in a school or in a business,” said the 27-year veteran. “Canada is not immune to those instances.”

The new training centre will be in operation five days a week and the regular police presence at the mall should improve interaction with the public, he said.

“It’s important that the community sees us as more than just a uniform,” he said, adding their presence might also curb mall shoplifting.

“Just because we’re in training, we won’t turn a blind eye to a criminal act. That puts (thieves) on notice too.”

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