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Published: 8/12/2004

Perrysburg: Residents invited to view new police station

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER
An atrium leads into the lobby and communication center. An atrium leads into the lobby and communication center.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

From the one-way glass panes that will let residents identify their attackers to the two-sided evidence lockers that will keep confiscated guns and drugs secure, the new Perrysburg police station has many features that police say will help them effectively fight crime.

The Perrysburg Police Department moved into the 30,800-square-foot station on Walnut Street last week. Residents are invited to view the station at 11 a.m. today during a ribbon-cutting ceremony that features hors d'oeuvres and guest speakers.

The total cost of building the new station was about $7.9 million, including expenses for designing the building, removing asbestos from the site, and other infrastructure improvements. The old police headquarters, a 4,200-square-foot building dating back to 1965, was demolished to make room for the new station.

"I think we've done a good job with the least amount of expense we possibly could," Mayor Jody Holbrook said. "I think the building will serve our needs for the next 20 to 30 years and will keep up with our growth."

A sunlit atrium leads into the station's lobby and communications center, where dispatchers monitor the entire building on television screens and use new radio and computer equipment to keep in touch with officers on the streets.

A storage area for records will allow the department to consolidate its files. In previous years, every officer was responsible for maintaining his or her case records.

"Centralizing the records will make us a lot more efficient," Police Chief Richard Gilts said.

One of the station's interview rooms where police can inter-rogate suspects has a window with one-way glass, so victims of crime can remain outside the room and identify suspects without being seen.

"In the past, our facility didn't allow us to separate victims and suspects adequately," Chief Gilts said. "We didn't have enough space."

Other new features include a training room that can accommodate up to 40 people and is equipped with wireless microphones and machines to project computer images onto a large screen.

A roll-call room allows officers to meet at the beginning and end of shifts to take stock of activities at the station.

"It gives us a significant advantage in the continuity of command," Chief Gilts said. "Communication between shifts should be significantly improved."

The evidence area has some interesting gadgets to prevent anyone from tampering with evidence. Officers with confiscated items put them into lockers that lock as soon as the door is closed. The lockers open from the other side, but the opposite door is in a room that only three officers have keys to enter.

Officers with the special keys retrieve the evidence from the sealed locker room, which is monitored by video cameras, and send the items to another locked room in the basement on an electronic dumbwaiter.

"I'm very excited about the evidence room. It allows us more room not only to store, but to process evidence," Detective Dave Schmaltz said. "We can refute claims that evidence was tampered with."

Now that the police department is in its new home, the city plans to use the department's temporary location in the basement of the municipal building for offices and meeting rooms.

The new station has room for future improvements, such as an indoor firing range. A long cement block room in the station's basement was originally slated to be a firing range, but city officials cut the necessary $300,000 from the budget for the station.

Chief Gilts said he was disappointed that the firing range was not finished, but overall is very pleased with the building.

"I believe that procedurally, our officers are as safe as we ever have been," Chief Gilts said. "The new physical structure has allowed that."



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