Inside the new CCSO training center

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Capt. Mark Persall, Lt. Rex Sorrow and Lt. Jeff Clemons in the main room of the training center / W.C. Mann

CULLMAN – The Cullman County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) has a great reputation for reaching out into the community, but sometimes you’d just like to stay home.  Now, Sheriff Matt Gentry and his staff can do just that, and they’re inviting folks to come to them.

The CCSO recently completed construction of a training center adjacent to the Sheriff’s Office and Cullman County Detention Center in south Cullman.  The facility will house the offices of training and operations officers, and has the capacity to host all kinds of classes and training events.  Earlier this week, Lt. Rebekah Cash and Lt. Rex Sorrow gave The Tribune a tour of the facility, and talked about plans for its use.

The front of the building houses the offices, a storage room and restrooms.  A kitchen and breakroom will allow in-house service of food and drinks during events at the facility.  In back is the large main training room, with dual electronically controlled screens and daylight projectors whose images can be seen with the room fully lit.  In one corner of the room sits a desk with a full array of computing device hookups: a presenter can walk in with anything from a personal notebook computer to nothing but a flash drive, and still run a multimedia presentation with the available in-house equipment and sound system.  Storage rooms hold folding tables, 120 chairs (so far; the room is large enough to hold more), and heavy duty floor mats that can be connected to form a large cushioned work area for physical conditioning or self-defense exercises.

It’s nice stuff, but no one should think about messing with it.  The facility also sports multiple security cameras inside and out to make sure that everything can be seen, recorded and documented.

The furnishings and equipment are high grade and didn’t come cheap, but according to Sorrow, “We wanted to do a top-notch training center.  Our goal is to see some kind of training in here every week, whether it be women’s self-defense, firearms safety training, or our Citizens’ Academy or Youth Leadership Academy.  We have a broad range of training here at the CCSO; not only for the citizens, but also for us.  We do a lot of in-house training, and not as much right now as we plan to do.

“That’s one of Sheriff Gentry’s visions: to have a training center where he could bring good training to us without us having to go out and get it.  We’re constantly sending people out of town, paying hotel bills and per diems, and stuff like that for an officer or deputy to go out and train, when they could do it right here.”

Sorrow says he hopes to see the center become a place that law enforcement officers from other agencies come to for training events, the way the CCSO has sent its deputies out to other instructional venues and events.  According to Cash, the agency plans to consolidate events that have been held at other venues around Cullman, like Cullman City Hall and the National Guard armory.  Larger venues like local churches will still be used for larger events like the Citizens’ Academy graduation.

The center has already seen its first event, a recent human trafficking training course.  In the next few weeks, it is booked for the Sheriff’s Youth Leadership Academy and a women’s self-defense class.

For more information about training events at the CCSO, contact Capt. Mark Persall at 256-734-0342 or mpersall@cullmansheriff.org.

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