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To Relocate or Not to Relocate: What should the Police Department Do?

| January 1, 2014 | 0 Comments

City Hall offices will be relocating to The Round in the summer of 2014.

This relocation presents an opportunity to solve long standing public safety issues.

15 fleetA citizens advisory committee concluded that the Police Department is operating in roughly one third the space it needs to operate efficiently, so the City Halls move presents an opportunity to reconfigure the space and to consolidate public safety operations, including emergency management, that are currently in several locations.

The citizen’s advisory committee explored many options from purchasing new property for a public safety center, tearing down the existing City Hall and building new, but ultimately recommended to the Mayor and City Council remodeling the existing City Hall building. Given the City owns the building, it is a more affordable and sustainable option, that can meet the City’s long-term needs. The total project cost is expected to be approximately $35 million-which is half the cost of other options that were explored.

The City is preparing to ask voters to transform the existing City Hall on Griffith Drive into a public safety center, which will include consolidating off-site operations and ensuring that it can survive and continue to operate following an earthquake or other disaster.

The proposal would ultimately put the Emergency Management Office (currently sharing space at two locations) Police Department (currently leasing two buildings off site at a cost of more than $140.000 per year) and Municipal Court under one roof.

The current building was designed and constructed in 1984 to accommodate an “office” environment and not for public safety functions. Police and court operations, by their very nature, require a level of security and function not available in this building as it is, or in any typical office building.

An internal assessment revealed inefficiencies and weaknesses in the current building that could be addressed if the building is renewed. Some of those issues included:

  • A common police records counter that is shared by both victims and offenders.
  • No private spaces where victims could communicate with police regarding sensitive information.
  • Jury space that lines a glass wall and does not allow for private deliberations.
  • Bathroom facilities that are shared by staff, visitors and offenders.
  • A drug drop box that is not located in a secure area for unloading.

Obviously a holding facility of some type is essential for any police department. That facility must be able to address people of all ages and in all states of mental and physical conditions. Soft cells must be equipped with drainage capabilities not currently available in the existing building. Juveniles must be kept in an area out of sight and hearing of adults but the current design does not always allow for that.

The report writing areas do double duty as evidence and report processing and returning phone calls.

The loading and unloading of prisoners at the rear of the building is done in an area lacking a “sally port” and although fenced, it is less than a perfect situation.

Locker room space for both male and female employees has been inadequate for some time. The space originally afforded to 63 people must now accommodate 174.

The timing could not be more perfect to take some affirmative action regarding an updating of the building then this year when the bulk of City Hall moves out.

You will be learning more of this effort as November approaches.

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Category: Beaverton, City News

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