8/11/2011 12:00 AM
A new $2.2 million multipurpose training facility for the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) will be named after the legendary Brazos Valley law enforcement officer and former Texas A&M University Chief of Police, Robert "Bob" Wiatt. Chief Wiatt, a local Federal Bureau of Investigation agent prior to his tenure with Texas A&M University, served the community from 1958 until his death in 2010. The training facility bearing his name will be located on the Texas A&M Riverside Campus, with construction scheduled to begin in September.
The facility name, recently approved by the The Texas A&M University System Board of Regents, will be the Robert "Bob" Wiatt Physical Skills Training Complex. The new TEEX Public Safety & Security division training facility will not only include the existing circuit training exercise and running track but also an indoor multi-use area where defensive tactics and other aerobic training can be conducted along with a weight training area, showers and locker rooms for students and staff.
"This building has been a strategic goal for the division for several years," said PS&S Division Director Tom Shehan. "Our plan has been to provide participants in both the Central Texas Police Academy and the Law Enforcement Extension Program access to locker rooms, showers, and gym equipment during training deliveries hosted at the Riverside campus."
The 10,500-square-foot building, designed by PDG Architects of Houston, is another example of continuous improvements underway at Riverside, home to a wide variety of training and research activities conducted by several A&M System components who reside at the 2,000-acre campus, Shehan said. "Not only will Brazos Valley law enforcement benefit from access to the new physical skills training facility, but all local TEEX Riverside Campus instruction linked to field exercises and other outdoor activities will now have additional indoor options during inclement weather, as well as a cleanup area for students who require access to showers and a locker room."
The new Robert "Bob" Wiatt Physical Skills Training Complex will honor the veteran law enforcement officer who spent more than 50 years serving the Bryan-College Station area, Texas A&M University, and the TEEX Police Academy. Wiatt moved to the Brazos Valley in 1958 after he was assigned to the FBI's Bryan Field Office. After retiring from the FBI, he served as Director of Security and Police at Texas A&M University from 1983 – 2004. In the 1960s, during the early years of Texas law enforcement training, before formal police academy requirements were in place, Wiatt played an important role in training new law enforcement officers through the Texas Municipal Police School at TEEX. "Bob was also a physical fitness advocate," Shehan said. "Many former chiefs told me there would be no better place to honor Bob Wiatt than with the naming of a physical skills facility like the one being constructed."
Texas A&M University Police Chief Elmer Schneider recalls: "Bob Wiatt was considered a legend in the Brazos Valley. In 1971, shortly after standards for policing were established by a fledgling state agency, the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement, Bob served as the primary instructor during the academy I attended at the Texas A&M Riverside Campus. At that time, Bob did it all. He delivered not only firearms training but defensive tactics and several other basic investigative modules crucial to new officer training….Bob personally demonstrated the importance of law enforcement officers being physically fit and continued his efforts to remain in shape until his final years with the University Police Department."
Former College Station Police Chief Ed Feldman remembers Wiatt as a perfectionist during his training at the academy in 1971. "Once TCLEOSE established voluntary basic peace officer training standards in 1967 and mandated those standards in 1969, Bob became a driving force behind quality training delivered through the police academy by serving as an adjunct instructor….He helped design a standardized defensive tactics module for the academy and took it upon himself to ensure every cadet understood the importance of not only being physically fit but well prepared if they were required to defend themselves."
The physical skills training facility will be constructed on the south side of the existing PS&S building, located on the corner of 5th Street and Avenue D at the Riverside Campus. Mrs. Wiatt has offered to provide many of Chief Wiatt's awards and memorabilia for display throughout the facility.
The grand opening and dedication of the complex is planned for next spring, in conjunction with the beginning of the 150th Basic Peace Officer class at the TEEX Central Texas Police Academy and the 70th anniversary of the Texas Law Enforcement Extension Program.