The Bexley Police Department currently occupies a building that was built in 1950-51 to be used as a fire station. The building was remodeled in 1983 to make it more suitable for police use.
The problems listed below create significant liability exposure to the city, negatively impact our police service to the community, and negatively impact employee quality of life.
Property Room Function
Our current facility lacks adequate property room facilities and creates significant liability exposure to the city.
Evidence and seized property; drugs, recovered stolen items, etc. must be efficiently processed and placed in a secure, locked, and climate controlled storage area until it is retrieved for court, destroyed, or returned to its rightful owner. Failure to maintain a clear and secure chain-of-custody often results in the loss of criminal cases and substandard service to the victim and community.
There is also significant liability exposure associated with inadequate property facilities when property is not accounted for or when cases are lost due to chain-of-custody issues. It is recognized that modern policing and successful prosecution demands secure property deposit and retrieval systems. For security reasons I will not disclose our current property storage system, but it is completely unacceptable.
Our current building does not include any training facilities other than the worn-out, inadequate shooting range. The range is so old that repair parts are no longer available for the shooting equipment. At one point in the range, mold is coming through the ceiling tile.
Modern policing demands a physically fit, adequately trained workforce. Officers must receive ongoing training in patrol techniques, investigative techniques, hand-to-hand techniques, legal update training, as well as ongoing training on all weapons systems from less than lethal to lethal weapons.
Failure to conduct this critical ongoing training results in significant increases in liability to the police department and the City of Bexley. Municipalities that disregard this training are often successfully sued for failure to train all across the country.
It is not practical or cost effective to send officers off-site for training that should be conducted within the walls of the police department at a much lower cost. The new facility includes a modern shooting range, a fitness workout facility, and a conference room suitable for classroom instruction.
The current building does not include private interview areas, critical for citizens wishing to speak privately to an officer or detective and critical to officers in segregating and interviewing multiple suspects or witnesses.
Currently, investigators are crammed together in one room where everyone overhears every telephone call and personal conversation. It is completely inappropriate in today’s modern policing environment, especially in investigating particularly sensitive cases such as child abuse or sexual assault cases.
Locker room and shower facilities
There are several situations where officers must be provided the opportunity to shower while on the job; after physical fitness testing and training, after rigorous hand-to-hand training, or after an officer has been muddied or otherwise soiled while working on the street.
It is not practical to send an officer to their home to take a shower and it is not reasonable to demand the officer continue to stay on the job in a soiled condition.
The current facility does not include one single shower stall. Modern police facilities include showers in both male and female locker rooms.
Officers must also be provided adequate locker space to store uniforms, equipment, and other police gear. The current locker rooms, both male and female, hardly allow two officers to change clothes without bumping into each other. It is the most inadequate and demeaning police locker facility that I have ever seen in any comparable police building.
Citizen Safe Room
Modern police buildings include "safe rooms" located in the main lobby. People who are being pursued by potentially violent offenders (domestic violence, robbery, road rage etc.) know to flea to their local police department for safety.
But, there are many times when every working police officer is on the street and not in the police department.
There have been many documented instances where victims have ran to their local police department only to be cornered by their pursuer in the lobby of the police building. In some cases the pursuer has done serious physical harm or worse to the victim and fled before police can respond from the field to the department.
Modern police facilities include a lobby interview room that doubles as a safe room where potential victims can be directed to by the dispatcher, providing an opportunity for officers to respond to the department. Of course, the current facility does not include any such safe room or any interview room for that matter.
Police Officer Recruiting
Recruiting and hiring the very best candidates for police officer positions has become an extremely competitive process. While the pay and benefits are very comparable for surrounding agencies (Whitehall, Gahanna, Westerville, Worthington, Hilliard, Upper Arlington, Dublin, Columbus, Bexley, etc.) officers typically base their decision upon quality of life issues such as the quality of the police facilities.
Potential officers look for modern facilities with secure workout rooms, adequate locker and shower rooms, and police facility systems that support the police function and are not professionally embarrassing. Our inability to compete in this area will impact the quality of police officer willing to work in Bexley for many years to come.
Emergency Operation Facilities
Modern police facilities include conference/training areas that can be converted into secure emergency operation centers where city leaders can coordinate their efforts in response to unforeseen natural or man-made emergencies.
These facilities must be secure, have generator backup, and include extra telephone jacks, televisions to monitor local and national news, and areas for side meetings. The classrooms in the proposed facility meet this requirement. The current building has no such facility.
Police Dispatch Center
The current dispatch center often doubles as a roll-call/officer congregation room. This creates a disruptive environment for police dispatchers, but the building does not provide any other suitable meeting areas.
The current dispatch center only has one dispatcher consol. This creates a critical shortcoming and safety hazard during peak times of demand when two people need to answer phone calls and communicate with police officers in the field. Peak times of demand occur during high profile injury vehicle crashes on major streets, severe storm activity or sirens, and other incidents with multiple actors in highly visible areas.
The current dispatch center also hosts multiple exposed communications and electronic wiring, crammed into small spaces and hanging exposed below counter work space.