Inside the classroom, an empty bottle of wine sat on a table and two people lay dead, one of whom clutched a goodbye letter.
The crime lab of Broward College’s newly renovated Institute for Public Safety is not your typical classroom.
It’s a room to be examined by future crime scene investigators for clues: Is the suicide letter forged? Were the bodies moved? Whose fingerprints are on the bottle?
In addition to the crime lab, the $7 million renovation, which adds an additional 9,220 square feet, includes a “first of its kind” indoor 10-station, 50-yard rife range. The range compliments the simulation-based shooting facility and defensive tactics gymnasium.
A throng of about 150 police officers from across Broward County packed the new building Friday morning for the official ribbon cutting.
Among them: Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti, who wore a pin with the number 9463 on it. It’s the same pin he’s worn for the last five years — the badge number of Sergeant Chris Reyka, who was shot and killed Aug. 10, 2007 in a Pompano Beach Walgreens parking lot after checking the license plate of a suspected stolen car.
Reyka’s son Sean is a student at the Broward Police Academy, which has been housed at the Davie campus since 1973.
Lamberti commented on a small, but important aspect of the new building — the courtyard wall with the names of fallen officers.
“He knows his father’s name is on that wall,” Lamberti said. “Think about what Sean sees everyday when he comes into this academy.”
The newly renovated building will give more than 5,000 students access to classes in the areas of law enforcement, corrections, fire science and criminal justice programs. It also boasts the U.S. Green Building standard of LEED gold certified.
The building was constructed by Fort Lauderdale based-D. Stephenson Construction Company. CEO and NFL Hall of Famer Dwight Stephenson saw the project when it was just rubble 13 months ago.
“We completely gutted the building and made it all new on the inside,” he said.
Broward College president David Armstrong and Florida senator Democratic leader Nan Rich were among those in attendance.
Dean Linda Wood gave tours of the new facility to the police officers. She recalled a conversation with Sean about having his father’s academy uniform in the trunk of his car.
“It’s a reminder every single day of why he’s here and what his purpose is,” Wood said. “People are always watching police officers and they’re going to be the beacon of hope for somebody someday.”