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New Anne Arundel police academy offers training ‘as realistic as it gets’

Anne Arundel County elected officials and police brass convened in Davidsonville Thursday morning to open a shiny new police academy, named after a local law enforcement legend.

Police Chief Timothy Altomare remembered the heroics of the late Cpl. Charles B. “Butch” Troyer, best known for shooting a hijacker who boarded a plane at BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport with plans to assassinate a president, and how fitting it is to name the facility in his honor. Members of the Troyer family were present for a tour.

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Police recruits presented Troyer’s widow, Patricia, with copies of the photo and plaque displayed in the training center’s foyer, which said county residents would remember him as a “national hero.”

Altomare said he was relieved that delays caused by inclement weather during the construction of the $18.8 million facility are in the past. He said the project was conceived five administrations ago.

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“There’s no question in anybody’s mind this was sorely needed,” said County Executive Steuart Pittman, noting the old classrooms were too small and supervisors were crammed into tiny offices.

The old facility, just down the hill from the new one, featured classrooms in trailers attached to an old cinderblock structure. It was recognizable only because of the tattered wooden sign with faded white letters: “Anne Arundel County Police Training Center.”

“They come in a little soft, but when they’re done, they’re hard and fit," Pittman said of recruits. “What’s being taught in this academy is how to build trust into the community and how to be fantastic public servants.”

As Altomare and county Sheriff Jim Fredericks toured the Charles B. “Butch” Troyer Training Center, where classes of county recruits will train for seven months before joining local law enforcement agencies, they recalled their days training at what was once one of three of the Army’s Nike Missile sites in the county.

The gymnasium where Fredericks, a 1993 graduate of the academy, and his peers practiced defense routines was down in the missile area. “We’d go down those steep metal stairs," he said.

Now recruits will learn constitutional and traffic law in college-equivalent classrooms equipped with video screens, work out in a gym containing $175,000 worth of fitness equipment, practice driving scenarios in a room full of simulators that interact with each other and practice deescalation tactics in a 340-degree virtual reality room.

Supervisors can program a shooting simulator, where trainees can also practice using tasers and pepper spray — preparing for a wide variety of events and scenarios, said Capt. Sara Schriver, commander of the Training Division. “This is as realistic as it gets.”

“You’re almost existing in a real-world, as opposed to looking at a flat screen,” Altomare added.

In one room, all the desks are equipped with the laptops found in every police car. That way, Fredericks said, trainees, can learn how to run reports on people and lookup license plate numbers.

Fredericks thought of the “incredible scrutiny” his aspiring deputies and police recruits would face this new facility, as supervisors test whether they’re cut out for police life. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if supervisors set up radar on the first day to catch recruits speeding. “Academy life is what develops you.”

Though recruits will run on a new track between the academy’s buildings instead of running along the winding country roads of Davidsonville, that part of the training hasn’t changed much, Fredericks said.

“If you can’t run at the start of academy, you’ll know how to run by the end of your time."

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