By Ingrid Howard
Hoover Mayor Frank Brocato and other members of the Hoover community attended a groundbreaking April 10 on a new police training facility.
The $4 million facility, next to the Hoover fire station on 800 Municipal Drive, is something police Chief Nick Derzis has been dreaming of for a while.
“We’ve probably talked about it for 20 years, honestly,” he said. “And it was always a situation with budget. When we start talking about spending $4 million, there’s obviously always other things that cities have to do. But we’ve been very fortunate to work with this mayor and council and finally get it to fruition.”
This will be the first time in the city’s more than 50 years of history that it will have a center strictly dedicated for police training. The new center, scheduled to open in early 2020, will be 16,000 square feet and employ cutting-edge technology.
One example of this technology is an advanced firearms training simulator called VirTra, which is a video-based, 360-degree platform.
“It’s real-time action,” Derzis said. “It gets your heart beating fast. It’s like you’re right there engaged in something. And as we know, those things happen in a matter of seconds. I just think if we can send everybody through during the year, that it just makes us a better police department to respond to real problems.”
Derzis also said he anticipates collaborating with officers from other agencies in the Hoover training center.
“Our personnel are the most valuable assets that we have, and we want to make sure they can have their best training available,” he said. “We are excited to be able to provide it for them, as well as officers from other agencies.”
Brocato said the city was built on public safety and that he is excited for the police department.
“We’ve placed a lot of emphasis on public safety in the city of Hoover since its inception, and this is just another great example of our city supporting our police officers,” he said. “Training is so important in the job that they do. They just have very little margin for error. So the way you address that is to make sure you have really good training.”
A Special Meaning
Derzis spent his time at the podium during the groundbreaking ceremony to talk about his friends, Frank and Pam Barefield.
Frank Barefield is the chairman of Crime Stoppers of Metro Alabama. In 2017, his wife passed away after losing her battle with breast cancer.
“In honor of his wife, Frank purchased pink badges for all of our officers to wear during breast cancer awareness month to raise awareness for all women who have battled or battle cancer,” Derzis said.
When Frank Barefield discovered how much his friend Derzis wanted a training center for the Hoover police officers, Barefield decided to make a huge contribution.
“And now, today, I want to announce that Frank is contributing $250,000 to help make this dream of this training facility a reality,” Derzis said. “And with that, we are proud to name our training facility the Frank and Pam Barefield Training Facility.”
Frank Barefield said Hoover has one of the best police departments around.
“And it’s just an honor for me to be able to partner with the city of Hoover and the Hoover police department,” he said. “You really got to be at the top of your game to work with the city of Hoover. So it’s an honor for me to be able to do this.”
His wife was a good friend to the city for years, Frank Barefield said. So he wanted to do something to honor her, as well.
“I know she’s looking at what’s happening today, and I’m sure she’s pleased that she could be a part of it,” he said.