Upgrade for officers: Lawrence officials announce proposal for new police station, 911 communications center

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Standing in the squad room of the Lawrence Police Dept., Mayor Steve Collier and Police Chief David Hofmann announced Nov. 6 their proposal to build a new police station in the city.

Collier said the long-overdue plan comes after work from staff to improve the financial status of the city, particularly that of City Controller Jason Fenwick.

Today, the police station is housed in the city’s Government Center at 9001 E. 59th St., where it has been since 2009 after the former police headquarters flooded.

“What was supposed to be temporary has now been eight years and counting,” Collier said. “The men and women of the Lawrence Police Dept. have been working to make this inadequate space work for far too long. The time is long past due to give our law enforcement officers and staff a headquarters that is designed and intended to be a police station.”

The proposed site is an approximately 4-acre space from 5140 to 5162 Post Rd., a location known to local residents as the home of the defunct Snafu Saloon.

Collier said the site is central to most police activity in the city and is less than 1 mile from 42nd and Post Road, where the highest level of 911 calls originate.

“With this proposal, we will not only be honoring our men and women of law enforcement with a dedicated, state-of-the-art facility to call home, but we will also be transforming a site that is screaming for improvement,” Collier said.

The $12.9 million proposal includes a nearly 37,000-square-foot, two-story police station with a fully equipped basement, a sally port, or small entrance and exit point, for the safe transfer and processing of arrestees; a 2,000-square-foot, detached police vehicle storage and suspect vehicle processing garage; and a parking lot with approximately 150 spaces.

The new station also will feature a 112-seat training room to be used by other public safety agencies and community organizations.

“We simply don’t have enough space, and the space we have is not well equipped,” Lawrence Police Chief David Hofmann said. “The proposed police station will provide a safer, more secure environment for officers and the public. It will make public safety operations more efficient, and modernizing our operations will result in better policing.”

In addition to providing a new headquarters to the police department, the space also will house a 911 communications and dispatch center for Marion County, for which Lawrence has served as a backup. The center will be in a secure, underground, upgraded communications-technology facility.

“It would be ideal for our police operations to be co-located with our 911 dispatch and communications operations, and I cannot overstate the value of having our 911 center in a more secure, underground location,” Hofmann said.

During the past year, the City of Lawrence has conducted a feasibility study and gathered input from officers, which resulted in the proposed construction of the new building for the department to call home.

The proposed station will include a dedicated roll call room, multiple interview rooms, a room for arrestees who are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, dedicated offices for command staff, supervisors, detectives, the community prosecutor and the training officer, who currently works offsite.

The police station also will feature an evidence property room with more capacity and designated spaces for sensitive items, such as firearms, drugs, electronics and homicide evidence, including space and storage for professional standards, internal affairs, the honor guard, the Fraternal Order of Police, the more than 50 Lawrence Explorers and their advisors and code enforcement.

“By building a space that is purposely designed for police functions, we will increase the ease of communications, collaboration and cohesiveness between divisions,” Hofmann said. “And importantly, we will improve the security of transfer of items and people inside controlled areas.”

The mayor’s office filed a resolution earlier this month for the proposed police station and communications center, which will formally introduce the resolution to the Lawrence Common Council.

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