Downtown facility full of high-tech amenities
For years, Grand Junction police and fire department employees lamented the working conditions at their respective facilities that filled two square blocks downtown. Police officers told stories of pesky sewer gnats in the basement and water cascading in through the roof of the 1958 building. Firefighters at Station No. 1 slept in windowless spaces with little wiggle room.
So in 2008, city officials attempted to remedy the situation by proposing a quarter-cent sales tax increase to generate $98 million for the construction of seven buildings dedicated to public safety, including a new police station and outlying fire stations.
Voters, however, found the measure too expensive and elaborate and rejected it. Some dubbed the plan the “Taj Mahal” of public safety. After pruning the number of buildings and the scope of the project, a $32 million project resurfaced and now will be paid off through Grand Junction’s capital fund budget rather than a new tax.
Authorities will switch to a new 911 system this week and host an open house Sept. 8 for the new police station and remodeled fire station. Some areas may be open to the public earlier.
Here’s a look at what the new and revamped facilities will contain and how many of those features represent an improvement over the buildings they’re replacing.
PUBLIC SAFETY CENTER
■ A public entrance with locking doors, creating what’s known as a “man trap.” If a victim seeks safety at the building, the doors can be locked behind, keeping people safe inside. Dispatchers upstairs have the lobby on video and can talk with victims. Unfortunately, victims have been injured or killed at police buildings while attempting to flee attackers.
■ Kennels for K-9 units. Dogs previously stayed in patrol vehicles left running with the air conditioning on because there was no space for the animals.
■ A public entrance to retrieve evidence and a separate entrance for sex offenders off the main public entrance. Previously, everyone entered and exited the police station through the same set of doors. The scenario could have been difficult for victims having to sit near a perpetrator. Or, it could be awkward for visitors to watch as people exited the police station with evidence such as guns.
■ Computer servers located in a room with a fire suppression system. In the event of a fire, the room will lock down and the oxygen will be drawn out. Newer technology run on older circuits caused fires in the old police building.
■ A training or conference room to hold 120 people. The space also may be available to some community groups. It was impossible for all officers to fit in the former conference room.
■ A training room for the 911 Communication Center that also can serve as an emergency operation center. Nearly 40 dispatchers will work in the space taking up to 300,000 calls per year for 22 law-enforcement agencies. New amenities include stations for standing up during long shifts and a small balcony to catch a breather.
■ A “war room” — technically called a major case room — for large investigations that can be locked down to admit only certain individuals.
■ An area for victim advocates with an adjoining family room.
■ Rooms for patrol sergeants, commanders and general roll call. Patrol sergeants formerly shared one desk.
■ Space dedicated for officers to write reports, a locker room with outlets in storage units to recharge equipment and some sleeping quarters.