EDINBURG – Seventeen cadets lined the back row of the opening ceremony for the city's new police training facility.

The 9,600-square-foot facility began construction in October and now the 17 cadets will be the first to graduate, preparing them for employment in law enforcement.

The building features a grand conference room with a capacity of 100 people, classrooms, office space and smaller conference rooms.

“The vision was to have a regional training police academy and that's what this is about,” city council member Richard Molina said. “As a young cadet we would drive to Harlingen.”

Ron Garza with the Lower Rio Grande Valley Development Council (LRGVDC) said in June they started their 195th academy at the new facility. The organization has transitioned to partner with local law enforcement agencies to provide instruction.

“What better instruction can you get than those who truly have the pulse of the community,” he said. “We know they have some of the best training available to them today.”

Training at the new facility is led by Edinburg Police Department Lieutenant Carlos Champion.

Every day the police academy is in session. On other days there might be a class that is mandated for peace officers to be in compliance with employment regulations.

Champion said what training is available will be on the LRGVDC website and will always be free.

While there are instructors at the academy it would not be out of the ordinary to bring in specialists from the department to help with a class. The instructor ratio is usually about 24-to-1 but classes with firearms for example Champion said they like to use up to four instructors for 24 students.

“We like to keep those ratios low because it is very technical and there are liabilities,” he said.

More information about the police academy is located at www.lrgvdc.org.