Construction begins on criminal justice training facility

A rendering of the new criminal justice house.
Photo courtesy Tara Connolly

Nearly a decade ago, Buzz Hoffman, former department chair of the DMACC Criminal Justice Department, first shared the idea of building a training facility on campus for students to gain realistic crime scene investigation experience. Now, after gaining the support of the DMACC Foundation, the Criminal Justice Department is bringing the project to life.
Jessica Cole is the current district chair of the criminal justice department, and she has been part of the program since the new facility project first started getting support in 2015.
Cole said that creating realistic crime scene investigation scenarios has been a difficult task for the criminal justice program in the past. Having to resort to empty classrooms, outdoor areas, and even hallways, the success of the training scenarios was often reliant on the imagination of the students.
When the project is completed, students will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience in an environment designed to replicate a variety of scenarios they will face in their future careers.
The facility will be located on the Ankeny campus near Trail Point Aquatics and Wellness Center. It will have the appearance of a ranch-style home, complete with a kitchen, living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, garage, and porch.
It will also have a basement, which will provide space for a classroom setting, as well as an interviewing room and mock cell. Movable walls featured throughout the facility will give faculty the opportunity to create a wide variety of possible scenarios, meaning more thorough, practical and realistic training opportunities for students.
The project is also providing training opportunities for students outside of the criminal justice program. The facility was designed by DMACC Architectural Technology students, with assistance from criminal justice faculty, and it is being built by building trades students.
Criminal justice students and faculty broke ground on the project last October, and construction is expected to finish this summer. The facility is planned to open to students for the fall 2019 semester.
The new facility will provide more realistic training not only for students, but for members of local law enforcement agencies who will have access to the facility when it is not being used by classes.
Currently, the project is still working to reach a fundraising goal of $300,000.
Tara Connolly, the executive director of the DMACC Foundation, said that through donations they have nearly met the goal by raising $275,000 so far.
Any individuals or organizations interested in getting involved and contributing to the project can do so online by going to https://www.dmacc.edu/foundation/Pages/cj.aspx or by calling the DMACC Foundation at 515-964-6229.

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