SC Criminal Justice Academy expanding facilities

      COLUMBIA (WACH, AP) " A new facility opened in the Midlands that will change the way new law enforcement officers are trained in South Carolina.

      The South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy held a grand opening Wednesday for its first significant expansion in more than 20 years.

      Organizers say the new buildings include a full-sized gymnasium for physical and defensive training. There is also a full-service kitchen, dining room, several classrooms and a dormitory with more than 200 beds.

      Officials say the expansion will improve training and allow them to extend a basic training program from nine weeks to 12 weeks. The $14.5 million cost was funded by a $5 surcharge on court fines levied throughout the state.

      Director Hubert Harrell states that the additional training will allow the academy to provide the citizens of South Carolina with better trained, professional law enforcement officers who are better equipped to function effectively than ever before.

      (The Associated Press contributed to this report)