ENDICOTT, NY (WIVT/WBGH) – A grant that was many years in the making is intended to improve the training officers from several local police agencies receive.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo visited the Endicott Police Department today to announce $350,000 in state funding to improve Endicott’s Law Enforcement Training Center.

The money will pay for 2 significant upgrades to the department’s firing range in the basement.

$200,000 will go toward new bullet-absorbing blocks that will line the back and side walls of the range, allowing officers to shoot target practice with patrol rifles and not just handguns.

The remaining money will purchase a fully immersive 360 degree virtual reality platform for training up to 4 officers at a time on customizable real world scenarios.

Endicott Police Chief Pat Garey says, “If I’m conducting the training and I want to pretend I’m a woman in the training, the software actually changes my voice based on what I selected. So, you could do a child, you can do any gender, any age. It’s really an immersive experience.”

Garey says the simulated situations will include mental health crises, de-escalation efforts, emergency intervention and active shooters.

The original plan was simply to upgrade the infrastructure of the firing range, but that was delayed by the pandemic and supply chain problems.

Once the grant appeared to be back on track, Garey requested the additional funding for the training simulators.

Besides Endicott Police, officers from Johnson City, Vestal, Port Dickinson, the Broome County Sheriff’s Office, Broome County DA, Broome Security, State Police and Binghamton University Police will all have access to the upgraded training facility.