LAWRENCE — The Kansas Board of Regents earlier this month approved a plan from the University of Kansas to renovate the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC) campus located near Hutchinson. The KLETC Campus Master Plan would provide facilities for new curriculum, interagency training and capacity for more students. The plan will now go to the Kansas Legislature.
“There is no more important government function than effectively enforcing its laws,” said Darin Beck, executive director of KLETC. “We are seeing the consequences nationwide of what happens when law enforcement isn’t done well. It tears apart the fabric of our society. Only when Kansans are safe can they live their lives in freedom, go to work or school, run their businesses, raise their families, and enjoy leisure time and their other pursuits.”
The new curriculum supported by the proposed campus master plan emphasizes hands-on, scenario-based training. This approach is regarded as the most effective. New and updated facilities would include emergency vehicle operations courses, an indoor firearms range and a tactical village.
“The planned facilities create places where we can conduct coordinated, combined training of public safety services,” Beck said. “This represents what real-world incidents in Kansas and elsewhere look like, such as the Greensburg tornado and other natural disasters, a terrorist attack, a school shooting or other active shooter situations, and other modern threats. These are clearly scenarios we want Kansas first responders to be well-prepared to handle.”
Beck said the current campus at times suffers from capacity limits, such as insufficient dormitory, dining hall and classroom space. These facilities would be expanded in the plan. The campus entrance and arrival plaza and grounds will also be improved. Beck said the plan will create an atmosphere of a higher education campus, emphasizing service to communities, well-being and fitness in addition to classroom-based education and tactical training.
The proposed campus design, supporting KLETC’s strategic plan, results from years of work including visits to similar campuses in other states, conversations with local stakeholders and consultations with architects specializing in such facilities.
“We look forward to working with the Legislature to earn their approval of the project and determine how best to fund it,” said David Cook, vice chancellor of public affairs and economic development for KU. “There are a number of ways to pay for this kind of important project, including options that don’t draw on funds from taxpayers. We are eager to explore all avenues with our state leaders and their decision on the best option.”
KLETC is currently funded by a portion of statewide court docket fees and vehicle tag fees. The existing facility in Reno County was previously a World War II-era naval air training facility. Some of KLETC’s buildings date from the 1950s. The proposed campus master plan will span 20 years, resulting in a campus that would comprise 19 buildings. The $200 million to $250 million project estimate includes acquisition of land adjacent to the current location, utilities, roads, drainage, demolition of some buildings, renovations of other buildings and construction of new buildings. Improvements would also enhance the safety of the campus and its occupants through new security measures and protections from severe weather.
KU hopes the Legislature will proceed with discussion and planning for the KLETC campus master plan in the upcoming session.
About the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center
Established by the Kansas Legislature in 1968 as the central law enforcement training facility for the state, the Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center (KLETC) serves as the headquarters for all law enforcement training in Kansas. Located at the former naval air station south of Hutchinson and west of Yoder in Reno County, KLETC – a unit of the University of Kansas Lifelong & Professional Education – directly trains the overwhelming majority of municipal, county and state law enforcement officers in Kansas, and it oversees, supervises and monitors the training of the remaining officers at eight authorized and certified academy programs operated by local law enforcement agencies and the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Photo: Kansas Law Enforcement Training Center.