CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Cape Coral police officers have to share training grounds with other agencies, and department wants its own full-equipped facility. Plans to build one in the north section have been in the works for almost a decade, but building it will cost millions.
From the time a new officer is hired throughout their entire career, training is key to their success. Only WINK News caught new officers earning the ropes inside the Cape Coral Police Department.
But the work here stops in the classroom, and starts again with the permission of other agencies. For example, the department shares a gun range with Charlotte County.
"Right now we may not have the flexibility that we may otherwise have, if we had our own facility," said Detective Sgt. Dana Coston. He says a new facility, complete with its own gun range, would be built somewhere on an expanse of acres in the north Cape.
"It's geographically isolated. We would have the ability to start small, then grow," said Sgt. Coston.
But previous plans to build one added up to nine million dollars. Another barrier isnt just the construciton of the new facility, but the construction of a road to get there. Building a road through the brush could cost more than a million dollars.
"That is a very expensive cost in and of itself. And that is to just getting to the facility," he said.
Sgt. Coston says the approval of the new facility probably wont happen for a couple of years, as the department start to budget, and work with the city on a plan of action. But, its never too late, he says, to start planning for the future.
Planning for the training of the department's more than 220 officers must be done a year in advance. Once the new facility is approved and built, the police department could share it with the fire department, and other agencies.
WINK News is also learning pay parity is becoming an issue.
Officers haven't had a raise in seven years. The deputy chief says the department is spending thousands of dollars on training, only to have officers leave to better-paying jobs.
"In the past its always been ten to twelve officers we lose a year. Based on attrition, different reasons. In this last year we've lost 28. I can attribute a majority of those to pay issues," explained Deputy Chief David Newlan.
Officer's salaries are not determined by the department, but through negotiations with the city and the police union.
Negotiations are underway right now.