Don Munsch of the Fort Bend Herald reported on the grand opening of the new Fort Bend County Gus George Law Enforcement Academy on October 7th.
Two founding members of the Gus George Law Enforcement Academy and a former academy director of the academy received the highest honors that the academy could probably bestow upon them Tuesday: Classrooms were named in their honor.
County, city and other local officials joined residents in the commemoration of the new Gus George Law Enforcement Academy Tuesday morning. The academy building — which cost $5.9 million — is located across the street from the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office and sits directly across the way from the construction site of the new justice center, set to open in 2011.
Former Stafford Police Assistant Chief Jan Jones, former Missouri City Police Lt. Billy Ennis and former academy director Lt. Don Martin (Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office) have classrooms named in their honor. Jones and Ennis, both of whom are deceased, were founding members of the academy. Martin attended Tuesday’s event.
“The building you see behind me is two-story (and) totals approximately 40,000 square feet,” said County Judge Bob Hebert, standing at a podium, as he addressed the crowd outside the academy. “It contains four classrooms, a computer-based training room, a lecture hall with a seating capacity of over 120, a library, physical training rooms and an academy administration area. I think anybody who has been in the old academy will recognize immediately that this a vast improvement.”
The new academy features office suites for the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office divisions of human resources, community services, internal affairs and a polygraph lab, Hebert said. The first floor also has offices for the Fort Bend County fire marshal and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission staff, he said. “In addition to that, there are several thousand square feet for expansion,” Hebert said. “Shortage of space has been something we’ve dealt with since I came on the court, and it’s nice to see that we’re getting extra square footage that will serve us for decades to come.”
Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Craig Brady spoke on behalf of Sheriff Milton Wright, who was unable to attend. “Fort Bend County is one of a handful of counties that has a law enforcement academy, and I dare to say we have the nicest academy in the state at this point,” Brady said. “It couldn’t have been done without the foresight and help of Gus George and Bill Ennis and Jan Jones.”
Captain Mike Patton, academy director, gave some history of the academy and explained how Martin, Ennis and Jones were instrumental in the academy. The late Gus George was a former county sheriff. Martin was especially influential, Patton said. “Don built the academy,” Patton said. “The academy as we know it today — the management system that’s in place today — was all built by Lt. Don Martin.” Martin said he liked the new building — as it has space for more classrooms and bigger classes — and said it was an honor to have a classroom named for him.
Academy Assistant Director Lt. Matt Carter said the new building will be ready for use for classes on Monday. The new building will have training for everything from basic licensing courses for various law enforcement jobs to in-service and supervisory training, among others, Carter said. “I’m excited — it’s long overdue,” Carter said about the new building. “We’ve been restricted in space size for the last three years awaiting the project to be completed, and we know are going to make wonderful use of the facility. … It’s much more professional set-up than what we’ve been doing in the past, which has been to pack and carry equipment and setting up oftentimes in borrowed spaces. So we’re now in a building that is designed specifically to conduct the training that we are doing.”