Polk State College now officially has the site for its planned Center for Public Safety.
On Tuesday, the Polk County Board of County Commissioners unanimously approved the transfer of 10 acres, located off State Road 540 and adjacent to the Polk County Sheriff’s Operation Center, to the College. Final action to accept the transfer will be taken by the College’s District Board of Trustees at their Aug. 24 meeting.
With the land secured, planning for the facility will continue, with the College’s next step being to solicit proposals from architecture and engineering firms.
“We hope to have serious design discussions through the fall,” said Peter Elliott, vice president of administration and chief financial officer, who represented the College at Tuesday’s commission meeting.
Preliminary plans for the Polk State College Center for Public Safety call for a two-story, 100,000-square-foot building. The building will house the College’s Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Services and Fire Science programs, as well as the Kenneth C. Thompson Institute for Public Safety.
The timeline for construction of the project is uncertain, and is dependent upon the College receiving additional funding. The state legislature earlier this year OK’d $9 million toward the project, but the total cost will be $30 million.
In approving the land transfer, commissioners cited that the Polk State Center for Public Safety, which will be unique to Central Florida, will draw students from across the region.
“We will be attracting students from out of the county,” Commissioner Bob English inquired.
“Absolutely,” Elliott replied.
Also, its proximity to the Sheriff’s Office Operations Center will enhance the well-established partnership between the Sheriff’s Office and the College.
“I know from the Sheriff’s perspective, with the convenience of the location, it will allow access for the ones helping with those programs to be able to step over to the building,” said Commissioner Sam Johnson.
The Polk State Center for Public Safety will offer relief to programs that have long since outgrown their current, outdated locations, and will allow for further expansion. The College’s Criminal Justice program, for instance, is currently working toward the addition of a bachelor’s degree.
Also, by consolidating the related programs of Criminal Justice, Emergency Medical Services, Fire Science and the Kenneth C. Thompson Institute for Public Safety, the College will be able to better deliver the interdisciplinary instruction that the public safety field increasingly demands.
Polk State’s public-safety programs include Criminal Justice, which prepares students to work in law enforcement, corrections, probation and parole, private and industry security, and other criminal justice fields. It also provides education to those currently working in law enforcement who seek to advance their careers. Emergency Medical Services prepares students for careers in out-of-hospital medicine, as Emergency Medical Responders, Emergency Medical Technicians or Paramedics. Students in the EMS program regularly exceed state averages on the paramedic and EMT licensing exams. The Fire Science Technology Program is designed to allow fire service or fire protection professionals to enhance their technical competencies and prepare for career advancement. Polk State’s Kenneth C. Thompson Institute for Public Safety provides training for those either beginning careers in law enforcement or seeking advanced law-enforcement training. In 2007, it became one of only two dozen training academies in the country to receive accreditation through the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement.