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Sophisticated Training Site for Officers May Reopen

February 06, 1996|LEE ROMNEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

County supervisors today will consider a Sheriff's Department proposal to reopen a premiere training facility, closed since the bankruptcy, by relying in part on money from security companies that would use it.

Laser Village in Orange, an eight-building mini-city, presents peace officers with live confrontational situations as trained actors rob banks, hole up with hostages in two-story homes and battle it out in violent domestic disputes.

The facility, formally known as the County Tactical Firearms Training Center, is the only one like it in the state, since similar ones in Los Angeles and San Diego counties closed, Sheriff's Lt. Ron Wilkerson said. Most Orange County law enforcement agencies trained at Laser Village before the December 1994 bankruptcy, he said.

"It's the only facility of its kind around where you have live actors that run scenarios that are extremely realistic," Wilkerson said. "These are very good actors who test the officers' ability to handle these situations. It's real-life experience as compared to experience from a one-dimensional TV screen" used in other training.

Under the proposal to be considered today, the costs of reopening the facility would fall to the Commission on Peace Officers Standards and Training, known as POST; Rancho Santiago College, which runs the Sheriff's Department basic academy; and private security companies, which increasingly have requested training time at Laser Village since it opened in September 1988.

Operating the village would cost $120,586 for the remainder of the current year and $358,158 for the next budget year, officials said.

Rancho Santiago College would provide a $50,680 start-up fee plus $20 per student and POST would pay $120 per student. The remainder would come from private security companies, Wilkerson said.

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