Valencia College will hold a public unveiling for its new School of Public Safety on Thursday, April 2 from 3-5 p.m.
The leaders of Orange and Osceola county public safety agencies, as well as state and local elected officials, are expected to attend. Following a formal ceremony, guests will be given tours of the facility with live demonstrations, including:
- A fire command simulator used to create realistic conditions for firefighters to practice high-risk techniques in specific types of buildings (i.e. hospitals, hotels, restaurants, nursing homes). The simulator was developed for Orange County Fire Rescue by UCF’s Institute for Simulation and Training.
- A new interactive tactical simulator used for law-enforcement officer training that uses realistic scenarios involving active shooters and non-lethal threats. Implemented in partnership with Orange County Sheriff’s Office, the simulator is one the most advanced in the country.
- A new mock courtroom where police recruits, sworn officers and criminal justice students will learn courtroom demeanor and practice testifying – with the help of Valencia’s paralegal students and theater students who will serve as lawyers and witnesses.
- Fire and police recruit physical training exercises including an obstacle course, defensive tactics, and victim extraction techniques.
- A firefighter versus law enforcement officer chili cook-off, with Orange County Commissioner Scott Boyd serving as one of the judges.
“The educational system in Central Florida for law enforcement and fire service officers has been fragmented until now. The new School of Public Safety will reach across disciplines and agencies to educate and train students for 21st century threats,” said Jeff Goltz, executive dean.
By bringing programs for firefighters, law enforcement and corrections, as well as security officers and homeland security, under one umbrella, the School of Public Safety will offer students interdisciplinary training, expanded courses and programs, more opportunities for career advancement, and dedicated career program advising and student services staff.
In December, Valencia trustees approved a resolution allowing a major expansion of the college’s offerings. The School of Public Safety will combine current education and training programs for law-enforcement officers, corrections officers and firefighters, with programs planned for students interested in careers in homeland security, emergency management and private security.
A conceptual rendering of the school includes an outdoor public safety lab where students will get hands-on training in firefighting and law enforcement tactics, search and rescue, and enhanced K-9 training through a partnership with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office. Proposed facilities include everything from a burn building to a new 400-seat auditorium for seminars and conferences. New facilities are expected to take three to five years to complete.
The new School of Public Safety will also house the following:
- The Criminal Justice Institute, which provides an Associate in Science degree in Criminal Justice Technology; basic training and academies for law-enforcement officers, corrections officers, administrators and 911 dispatchers; and leadership programs that offer master’s degree-level credits – through a partnership with UCF – to currently employed public safety officials.
- The Fire Rescue Institute, which provides basic firefighter minimum standards training, as well as technical and career certificates for officers moving up through the ranks. The institute offers an online associate degree in Fire Science Technology, as well as specialized training for current firefighters, including simulated fire command training.
- The new Safety and Security Institute which, when complete, will provide professional development and leadership training for private security officers and managers, as well as homeland security specialists.
The School of Public Safety occupies the 77,000-square-foot training facility that was formerly home to the Criminal Justice Institute. It is located at 8600 Valencia College Lane in Orlando.