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Battle Creek Police maximizing new facility

Posted by: Jennifer Gomori Posted date: November 29, 2018

Photos courtesy of Battle Creek Police Department
Battle Creek Police have a new larger building to accommodate their growing staff, equipment and storage needs.

— By Jennifer Gomori, POJ Editor with excerpts from Battle Creek Police, Battle Creek Enquirer and WBCK 95.3

Battle Creek Police moved into their newly constructed larger facility in late summer and by early November workers were completing the teardown of the outgrown and outdated 1971 structure to make room for increased parking for city offices and additional green space around The Fallen Officer Memorial, which honors Battle Creek Officers who died in the line of duty.

The police department’s new $15.5 million building was built to accommodate the growing staff and alleviate several problems staff and visitors were experiencing at the old station. The older 22,000-square-foot station was meant to house 80 people, while the new 46,000-square-foot structure was constructed with the 185-member staff and their storage needs in mind. The 18-month construction project culminated in a grand opening in August 2018 to provide the public with an inside view of the new station.

The window-lined lobby offers a feel of transparency.

The building features a large conference room for community meetings, press conferences, seminars, and meetings for the Citizen’s Police Academy. There are workout areas, new larger locker rooms with ample storage, 11 bathrooms instead of three, an outdoor patio break area and honor system vending area, instead of a cramped break room with seating for four. Specific areas were designed solely to process evidence with state of the art dryers for preserving things like blood-soaked clothing.

“We have much more usable space and we’ve also increased our technological capabilities and some of our special units are all hubbed together on the second floor,” said Sgt. Jeff Case. “There’s more of a free flow of information and communication. We are prepared for where we need to go in the future.”

The lobby at the new station is welcoming to visitors.

Case said the Fusion Center allows for special units to work together on crime analysis with detectives, patrol, federal partnerships, Child Protective Services and Community Mental Health all in one room. “We can pick the right tool for the right task,” Sgt. Case said.

Those agencies have local representatives with their own desks at the Fusion Center to facilitate investigations. “It helps us build those relationships with our partners. It streamlines the process. They’re already in the office,” Case said. “We can work together to solve problems. We have juvenile probation and parole in here as well. It’s a pretty substantial group of people.”

The differences are a stark contrast from the old station which experienced regular sewer and water backups, plumbing that did not work properly or at all, and floors, walls and ceilings that sustained ongoing damage from the water and sewer issues, according to a video on the department’s website by Sgt. Case. The water and sewer issues even impacted rooms used to house expensive technology. The City put in waterless urinals to combat the backups, but the odor was extreme, Case said. Other rooms had odors as well, but a ventilation project was estimated to cost $90,000 alone. The two public bathrooms were being used for storage due to a lack of space. The locker rooms were too small, and officers had to take about half of their equipment home with them. The showers sometimes didn’t work. Training rooms were too small and there was not enough space in the basement garage to house police vehicles during inclement weather. Only three office computers were available for use by 60 road patrol officers and the roof was covered with soil and plants to soak up water and prevent further leaks. Even the metal base of the interior cement stairs was rusting.

“It’s just not a friendly and warm place for people to come when they need police assistance,” Case said in the video of the old station.

The new station is located at 34 N. Division across Patterson Way from the old station. It honors the past with photos and plaques along the walls to remember those who have served the department in years past as well as photos of the 1971 station. The new facility was built where the 1916 station was originally located.

Mayor Mark Behnke said in a Battle Creek Enquirer article that the building was designed with many glass windows, glass walls inside and a huge skylight to bring in natural light. Police Chief Jim Blocker talked about all of the windows in the building not being an accident. In the interest of transparency, Chief Blocker said, he wanted the community to be able to see inside the department at any time.

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