The last few years I was police chief/director of public safety, I spoke to several people about a variety of options for a new police facility — everything from purchasing/renting, and then remodeling, an existing structure to finding an appropriate location for new construction. Personally, I was receptive to all options; however, the need for a new P.D. always seemed to slip from council’s priority list.
These discussions first began in the late 1990s, and a needs assessment was completed in 2002. That completed document recommended a combined police/fire facility of more than 25,000 square feet.
The existing police department (6,000 square feet) was first occupied in 1982, when the P.D. was composed of fewer than 30 employees. By 1995, we were bulging at the seams. The space dedicated for things like interview rooms, the garage and part of the men’s locker room, etc., were converted to other uses. The laboratory and bathrooms are inadequate, interview rooms nonexistent and we didn’t even have a patrol room until after one of the remodels when council moved out and into its new digs in Centennial Hall.
In order for a police department to do its job, it needs the equipment to get it done — good video and audio recording capabilities for thorough investigations, adequate evidence storage to ensure successful case prosecution and weapons storage for safekeeping of firearms and ammunition. These are some examples of what’s lacking in the current building, not to mention the primary issue of overcrowding.
So, do I think the city needs to build a new police facility? Absolutely! It’s time to stop talking and start acting.
Retired Steamboat Springs police chief