Opening its doors in January 2020, the HERO Center is a top-notch public safety training facility designed to help meet the needs of law enforcement, the fire department and Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agencies in both the Woodbury and Cottage Grove communities.
Breaking ground in 2011, the project was initially conceptualized by police captain Greg Rinzel of the Cottage Grove Police Department and Woodbury Police Department commander Chris Meinert as a way to create a convenient space for trainees. With everything under one roof, individuals save time and money on travel, and are provided with necessary equipment and space to sufficiently perform their duties.
“We really want our first responders to have the opportunity to experience good training because we want them to impact their communities by being the best that they can be,” HERO Center's Dan Anselment says.
Funded partially by the state through an $11 million bond, the remainder $10 million for the project was supported through a joint-power agreement by both communities. The facility includes a padded room for response-to-resistance training and defensive tactics, outdoor houses for crime scene and tactical SWAT training, fire pumps and standpipes for water access for fire trainees, an outdoor canine training area and more.
In addition to professional training, the HERO Center also provides courses and services to the public. Course offerings include handgun training, permit to carry, CPR and health training. In addition, citizens are welcome to rent a shooting range lane by the hour every weekend.
“This is a great opportunity for us to reach out to the community,” Anselment says. “We can help citizens get top-level training in the area and better equip them.”
Sitting on nine acres of land, this 47,500 square foot facility also features:
- A 16-total-lane shooting range
- Three classrooms and a locker room
- Hufcor: A modular wall system that allows trainees to practice building search methods
- An interactive training simulator that focuses on verbal de-escalation training and shoot-don’t-shoot scenarios
- 1.5 acres of fenced-in land for traffic enforcement and outdoor scenario training
- A rescue balcony and four-story stair well
- Mock structures that can be filled with smoke and low lights for search and rescue exercises
- A helipad that allows hospitals to stage mass casualty drills
- Mock jail cells