New Kissimmee public safety training center helping to sharpen skills

  • The families of Sgt. Richard “Sam” Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter, who were killed in 2017, recently gathered with police to see the new training center.
    The families of Sgt. Richard “Sam” Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter, who were killed in 2017, recently gathered with police to see the new training center.

The city of Kissimmee now has a top-notch public safety facility that will help better train first responders

The city of Kissimmee held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Kissimmee Public Safety Training Center on Aug. 25.

“It’s a state of the art facility and we are very fortunate,” said Kissimmee Police Chief Jeff O’Dell.

The 27,460 square foot facility located at 1701 Jack Calhoun Drive boasts a 20-lane firearms range, defensive tactics lab, 40-seat classroom, weapons cleaning area, and administrative offices for both police and fire personnel. 

One of the key advantages for officers than unlike the previous training center, this facility is inside and air-conditioned.

The outside elements such has the intense heat and the rain often made training difficult at the previous facility.

“If we had eight hours designated for training, we’d be lucky to get five or six hours in reality,” O’Dell said.

The new facility can also help create real life scenarios when it comes to police work. In training rooms, police can create barriers, hallways and rooms. They can conduct clearing exercises and practice different types of entries.

There are also special blue lights that create a nighttime effect. O’Dell noted that police-involved shootings occur mostly in the darkness.

“It’s critical that we train our officers in low-light conditions,” the chief added.

The classroom will be used for an array of lessons such as safe driving, manipulating a handgun, cultural diversity and CPR.

“The majority of everything we do starts in the classroom,” O’Dell said.

The police department will also rent it out to other agencies.

“This facility is going to impact Central Florida as well,” said O’Dell.

Giving a nod to City Manager Mike Steigerwald and the city’s elected officials for their support, the facility took about five years to open at about $10 million.

A special touch is that the police facility was dedicated to Sgt. Richard “Sam” Howard and Officer Matthew Baxter, who were shot and killed in August 2017. A special gathering was held at the facility for the families of the fallen officers. Their photos hang on the wall inside up at the front.

“Obviously it’s an opportunity to play homage to our two heroes, our two brothers in law enforcement,” O’Dell said.


Kissimmee Fire Department

The facility is also home to a five-story training/rappelling tower and burn building for the Kissimmee Fire Department.

 This facility’s five-story tower and burn building/room will allow firefighters to do live-fire training and conduct simulated searches for victims. The tower will give KFD the capability to practice technical rescue training such as high-angle rope rescue and confined space rescue. This facility also includes an elevator shaft prop and ventilation prop for firefighters to train on cutting holes in roofs. 

“The Kissimmee Fire Department is excited to have a fire training center within City limits as it will enhance our abilities to prepare and train our firefighters for the future,” said Kissimmee Fire Chief Jim Walls. 

The Kissimmee Fire Training Tower is dedicated to the memory of Lt. Bill Manning. Manning was killed in 2013 when a motorist hit him while he was riding his motorcycle. 

For more information about the City of Kissimmee, visit