In a groundbreaking move for Corpus Christi, the construction of a new $21 million police training academy is underway at Del Mar College’s Oso Creek campus. Police Department Chief Mike Markle holds immense aspirations for the facility and the quality of training it will provide to future officers.
This state-of-the-art facility, designed to serve the force for the next half-century, boasts an impressive array of features. Among these are an auditorium, two spacious classrooms, a cutting-edge driving simulator, and a dedicated crime-scene training room. Chief Markle shared, “This is the first time in Corpus Christi’s history that we’re building a police academy from the ground up.”
The need for a new training academy stems from the limitations of the existing one on Corona Drive, which the department has been using since 1981. That facility, with a modest 8,000 sq. ft. area, can no longer accommodate the growing force and its evolving training needs. The upcoming academy is a significant upgrade, offering four times more space.
“With our current facility, our average intake is around 30 to 35 cadets,” Chief Markle said. “Though we have sometimes had batches as large as 50, it became a challenge to manage them in our existing space. We often found ourselves staggering classes, which was not ideal.”
But for Markle, the essence of the new academy isn’t just about physical space. He envisions it as a place where cadets receive not just rigorous physical training but also a solid academic foundation. He’s intent on integrating academic credits into the training program.
“We need to recognize that our responsibilities go beyond just making arrests,” Markle emphasized. “Engaging with our community, intelligently resolving issues, and being adept problem solvers are equally, if not more, important.”
Typically, the academy sees class sizes ranging between 35 to 50 trainees. As the department grows, selecting suitable candidates for the force remains paramount for Chief Markle. He maintains high standards, striving for the ‘best of the best.’ “Though we receive between 1,000 to 1,200 applications regularly,” Markle said, “we’re extremely selective. I always say that it’s preferable to have a vacancy than to make a wrong hire.”
Under Markle’s leadership, the police force has seen the induction of 54 officers in the past five years, bringing the total number to a commendable 501.
Residents and aspiring officers can look forward to completing this state-of-the-art facility by the end of summer 2024, setting a new benchmark in police training for the region.