By the spring of next year, Belleville’s police department is set to have a new station.
The city is carrying out an $8.99 million renovation and expansion of the Bank of Belleville building at 720 W. Main St. The city hopes to move the police department into the location next spring.
The Bank of Belleville is moving to a location along South Illinois Street and is expected to be open in early August.
The future police station will be roughly 44,000 square feet, which will bring the police department into a state-of-the-art facility, said Mayor Mark Eckert. “This is a big improvement.”
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Features of the new facility will include a forensics lab, dispatch center, sally port to transfer prisoners and a 60-person community classroom.
Detective Chris Mattingly is the president of the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police Labor Council, representing Belleville police officers and sergeants.
“I know the men and women I work with are going to appreciate working in a modern professional police building ... and all in one location,” Mattingly said at Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony. “This modern police building is going to end up serving as a crown jewel for police departments in Southern Illinois.”
Plans also include the construction of a freestanding parking garage next to the police headquarters. The garage is designed to hold 46 police squad cars and will have a mechanics area for city vehicles, according to Impact Strategies, the company handling construction management for the city.
Eckert said construction will take place on the site during the next 12-14 months, but the police personnel are expected to be able to move in by May or June.
“The old facility we’re currently in was dedicated in May of 1957,” Eckert said. “We have outgrown the building we’re in, many years ago, and the facility is not something we’re extremely proud of right now.”
Police Chief William Clay said the current station has a dispatch center with no room for growth.
It also requires prisoners to go up to the third floor to a holding cell; sometimes those prisoners refuse to go up stairs and have to be carried, Clay said.
Prisoners sometimes would protest their detainment by flooding their cells, leading to equipment in the sergeant’s desk directly below being ruined, Clay said.
Clay joined the department in 1995, and said he was surprised with the city’s police station.
“I could not believe they had people crammed into such a small dysfunctional space,” Clay said.
Clay said he is happy with the future location of the police station.
“This is a great day for us,” the chief said. “This will change how the police department will operate in a fundamental way. It allows for future growth, and it’s a secure campus site.”
The police department is currently housed in the former Security Abstract and Title Co. building, which is adjacent to City Hall.
City officials plan to tear down the title building after the police department moves out. Demolition of the title building would help the city comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act as a new wheelchair ramp could be constructed.
The planned $8.99 million police station is part of $18.5 million the city plans to spend on city building improvements. A renovation of city hall is planned for $2.25 million. The construction of an indoor parking garage for police cars is planned for $2.12 million.
Work at the city hall would begin after the police department has been moved out, and would probably last six to nine months, Eckert said.
“We’re going to get a lot of it done, but it will be a work in progress for some time,” Eckert said.
The future police station location is still near to the city hall, the county courthouse and the county jail, Eckert points out. He added he believes the new station could help with economic development.
“It’s going to be another catalyst. They’re going to see the presence of the police department,” Eckert said. “I think it’s going to entice more business to empty buildings down here. With the street scape, I think it’s going to be a good time to see some rejuvenation on this section of Main Street.”