BI celebrates construction remodel for police-court facility

A crowd of police, city officials and community members celebrated the beginning of construction June 3 for what will become the new police station-city courthouse building on Madison Avenue.

Bainbridge Island police chief Joe Clark addressed the need for modern law enforcement capabilities and appropriate accommodations for judicial services.

“It’s an opportunity for us to improve the way we deliver services in our community. The current facilities are outdated, lack adequate space and infrastructure, and accessibility is a concern,” he said.

Clark said the department is constantly challenged to implement new technologies and best practices and emphasized privacy.

“Community members should expect a level of privacy and comfort when meeting with officers to discuss situations that are likely very traumatic in their lives,” Clark said, adding “This project provides all those things, the updated infrastructure to meet current and future technology needs, spaces for interview rooms that don’t look like holding cells. And there are spaces to build and reinforce community relationships through programs like our community police academy.”

The city has been trying to find a location for a new police station for more than two decades.

Deets shared a list of needs that will be met with the new building: a safe space that will provide respectful separation for witnesses or those seeking court orders; a proper space for jury trial on jury duty deliberations; a reception area for police and for customers; facilities that will provide safety during an earthquake; office space for non-uniform community support staff such as behavioral health specialists and social workers; and space for the city Emergency Operation Center.

The site includes a 3.13-acre parcel and a two-story building with approximately 18,000 square feet of space. The project is expected to cost $20.4 million. The city anticipates the major construction remodel of the former Harrison Medical Center building to be completed in 2023.

“After a long history of city projects and plans dying in the face of political controversy and election fallout, the fact that this project is finally moving forward bodes well for the council and for the community,” Councilmember Kirsten Hytopoulos said.

Councilmember Jon Quitslund said: “It feels good to be a member of the City Council that finally said “Yes” to the best available option for the island’s police and court facility. I expect to be fully satisfied when the renovation is complete and these essential services can relocate.” Quitslund gave a lot of credit to city manager Blair King. “Even before he took office here, he agreed to assess the options available to the council and our community, and he was methodical, thorough, transparent, open-minded and patient.”

Mayor Joe Deets added: “This has been a long time coming. To understand this project, we need to first ask why does it matter? A police and court facility exists to serve the needs of the community, and the current police station is probably the worst for any city of our size in the state, if not well beyond. The court facility is not much better. With this building, with this project, we will be a stronger community.”