News

Police station in sad shape

Mold the latest woe as officers lobby for a new station, court.

The Bainbridge Police station has lately been the beneficiary of a considerable infusion of green.

Unfortunately for those who work there, the hue belongs to mold marching up the basement walls, rather than money for the construction of a new building better suited to keeping nature out and prisoners in.

“That’s not a good sign,” said Deputy Police Chief Mark Duncan, shaking his head and pointing to mold overtaking a basement room that once housed police records. To avoid damage, police have moved the records – boxes and boxes of them – next door to what was formerly a public conference room.

“Our conference room is no longer a conference room,” he said. “It’s now a records storage room.”

The shift, Duncan said, was part of an ongoing shuffle to find space in the aging 6,500-square-foot structure, built in 1929 and put to various civic uses before becoming the police station in 2000.

For the few days prior to Wednesday’s City Council budget meeting, it housed anxious officers hoping to see funding restored for a new police and court facility.

The municipal court is currently housed in leased space at Rolling Bay.

“It looks like (council) put us back in,” Duncan said Thursday, after a press tour intended to show the police station’s deficincies. “Which is good. You have to put people somewhere.”

Councilors voted unanimously to reinsert into the six-year Capital Facilities Plan the police and court facility, which will cost an estimated $9 million.

The project has long been on the docket, but was deferred beyond the six-year CFP in a proposal issued by the mayor and city staff on Monday.

Police Chief Matt Haney joined Municipal Court Judge Kate Carruthers and courthouse employees at Wednesday’s budget meeting, asking that the council move ahead with the project.

“This is an essential government function,” Carruthers said, adding that the current courthouse at Rolling Bay is “neither secure nor safe.”

The courthouse has been housed in a storage facility at Rolling Bay since 1991. The move was supposed to be temporary, but scarce funding has made the court’s residence there more permanent than originally planned.

To serve those dealing with domestic abuse, the YWCA also has an office in the courthouse – “a walk-in closet,” YWCA employee Barbara Saur told councilors.

There’s small room to meet with clients, she said, and the walls are so thin that employees often have to whisper in meetings for fear that people in the adjoining room will hear confidential conversations.

In addition to mold, leaks and impromptu wiring at the police station, Duncan is concerned about security.

The department had previously been allocated money to build a “Sally Port” – essentially a garage in which officers can safely transfer prisoners from police cruisers to holding cells without the possibility of escape – but the project was abandoned in anticipation of a new building.

Duncan said new technology has enabled increasingly advanced analysis of blood, saliva and other potentially hazardous evidence, but Bainbridge Police are ill-equipped to do so safely.

“You need the right kind of facilities to deal with contaminated evidence,” he said. “We don’t have that.”

For now, the new police station appears to be back on track, with its return Wednesday to the CFP and the 2008 budget, scheduled for council approval on Dec. 12.

Plans call for selling the city-owned “Suzuki property” at the corner of New Brooklyn and Sportsman Club roads to help fund the project. The parcel was once considered a possible site for the facility, but a study last year recommended building the new station at its current location near the ferry terminal.

The project is expected to be allocated money for design 2008, with other funding to be worked out later. Police hope to have the new station finished in 2010.

Community Events, April 2014

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