The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office is well on its way to becoming a regional law enforcement training hub.
At the Dec. 17 meeting, Columbia County commissioners approved $2.5 million to purchase 541 acres adjacent to the sheriff’s office’s 50-acre Appling campus off Columbia Road.
“We have some immediate plans and some plans for future expansion as well,” county Administrator Scott Johnson said. “We have an opportunity to partner with the state for a regional training type facility.”
A nearly $1 million bid has already been approved for a new 6,000-square-foot training center on the campus. The sheriff’s office has outgrown the current building, which has no possibilities for expansion. The new one will be built on the former Animal Services site.
Local, state and federal agencies including the state law enforcement academy use the training center and more will use the new facility, Whittle has said.
The additional land would allow the possibility of a state partnership to expand the training facilities and have plenty of room to grow. One of the more immediate plans is to construct a driving track, hopefully with some state funds.
“We’re working on this partnership with the state, and we’ll possibly get some money from state for the driving track,” Johnson said.
The property allows for expansion while still providing enough space for buffer areas between the sheriff’s office training facilities and the Columbia County Detention Center and residential areas.
“We’ll just have to see what the future is,” Johnson said.