City assesses Police Department facility
Jeff Humphreys and Alexis Bauer of Mackenzie (left) attended an all-day workshop in February to learn more about Hood River police department’s facility and program.
Police officers spend most of their time in the field, responding to calls for service, patrolling, and performing investigations. However, a modern police facility is essential for supporting today’s policing profession. Conducting interviews, writing reports, securely storing evidence to support successful prosecutions, among other essential parts of law enforcement call for functional space in which to complete work quickly and get back in the field.
An example of a secure area in which to interface with the public was found at Sandy P.D.
In order for police departments to work efficiently and effectively, space is purpose-built for processing offenders, providing private rooms for victim or suspect interviews, writing reports, processing evidence, cleaning firearms, temporarily holding suspects, interfacing with the public, training, plus offices, locker rooms, and even laundry facilities for when calls bring officers into contact with hazardous materials. Modern policing facilities are also built to maintain operations during disasters, which requires high seismic standards and back-up power sources.
The Hood River police department answered 14,230 calls last year and conducted 738 arrests — many for DUII or possession of drugs, and also for theft or unlawful possession of weapons. The facility is housed in the daylight basement of City Hall, is substandard in size and deficient in functionality and safety features. It lacks seismic resilience, holding cells, private interview rooms, locker rooms, ventilated storage, covered and secured parking and has many other inadequacies standard in other Oregon police departments.
Hood River Police Dept. At-A-Glance
• 16.5 employees
• 14 State-certified Police Officers
• 1 Community Service Officer
• 1 Office Clerical
• .5 (Seasonal) Parking Enforcement Officer
• 24/7 police services to the people of Hood River
• Minimum of two uniformed patrol officers on duty at all times
• Service area 3.35 square miles
• Population 8,000 residents (As a regional service hub for Gorge residents and a tourism / recreation destination, population may bulge to 20,000 daily or more, creating challenges for staff and resources of the Police Department.).
• Activity 2018 calendar year
• 14,380 service calls (8% decrease over 2017)
• 738 criminal arrest charges (34% increase over 2017)
• 2431 traffic citations issued (14% increase over 2017)
• Over last four years, the Police Department has averaged:
• 12,840 calls for service
• 600 arrest charges
• 2,014 traffic citations per year.
“We’ve made the most of our current space in the past decade, but when we moved here it was a short-term fix with a five to seven-year limit,” relayed Police Chief Neal Holste. “The facility is cramped without spatial separation of functions or privacy for interviewing victims or an officer to rest his head before a court appearance after a long night on duty,” Chief Holste says. “Covered parking, especially in winter would be practical. Criminal incident reports can take hours to write and process evidence/property related to the incident, and when an officer gets called out he may be dealing with ice or snow on the vehicle before he can respond.”
Recognizing the deficiencies of the current facility, the City Council directed staff to perform a comprehensive evaluation of police department needs and facility function. The City issued a competitive solicitation for architects to perform this work and selected Mackenzie in January to conduct a facility needs assessment for the department. The architectural group, with specific expertise in police facility design and planning, is partway through that effort. Mackenzie is appraising the suitability of the current police department against industry standards, with input from a project committee that includes two City Council representatives. Mackenzie project leaders have met with Police Chief Neal Holste and key staff members in an all-day workshop gathering information as well as surveying staff on space and program elements.
Mackenzie, involved in many Northwest P.D. needs analyses and facility design, toured with the Hood River committee at three Oregon sites, including the Canby P.D.
In May, Mackenzie and committee members also visited three out-of-area facilities that offered comparative glimpses of more modern stations, including Sandy police station, Gresham’s Rockwood sub-station, and Canby police station. The goal of the tours was to spatially understand different facility components and identify elements to either emulate, modify or avoid for a potential Hood River facility. Site tours led to a program validation exercise, where city representatives analyzed Mackenzie’s draft of program needs and suggested alterations, generally reducing facility size where possible.
The next step of the needs analysis is site selection evaluation. The final deliverable to the City Council will be a recommended site, conceptual drawings and project cost estimates.
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