You can’t really tell how much has changed from the outside.
But work to convert the interior of a former office building and bank at the corner of West Main and Eight streets into Belleville’s new police department is about halfway complete.
During a tour of the 45,000-square-foot, three-story building Friday, Impact Strategies Executive Vice President Mike Christ said it’s easy to see how the new building will make working conditions more efficient and productive for the city’s police force.
“I’d say there is easily more than twice the space,” which is currently divided into three buildings, Christ said. “Currently, they have to make do with what they have. But this building is designed to help police do their job.”
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According to police department Lt. Col. James Spargur, everything in the current police department is scattered across makeshift space.
Officers have offices in an area that was originally intended to be a locker room. The sally port where prisoners are brought into the department to be processed and interviewed only has one door and police have to back their squad cars out to exit. The department’s buildings are in a landlocked space surrounded by one-way streets that makes shift changes a hassle and the lack of parking makes it tough for citizens to come into the department to do business.
The new building has been purpose-built to be ideal for police work.
$10.5 million to renovate the former Bank of Belleville building into the Belleville Police Department’s headquarters
“All that we kept was the stairways, the elevators and the bathrooms,” Christ said, adding that the bathrooms had to be extensively renovated in order to meet Americans with Disabilities Act specifications. “Everything else is being redone.”
He said the total price tag to renovate the former Bank of Belleville building is $10.5 million. The Bank of Belleville moved into its newly constructed building at 215 S. Illinois St. in August.
Christ estimated it would have cost $16-$18 million to build a similar building from scratch.
The first floor will house dispatchers in an expansion where the drive through was located when the building served as a bank, a community room, 13 holding cells compared to the current police department’s six, an evidence room and the sally port with overhead doors at both ends.
“The sally port and the dispatch area are designed to Federal Emergency Management Agency standards for surviving a disaster,” Christ said. “The dispatch area has to be protected so that they can stay in operation in the event of an emergency while the sally port will serve as shelter for the rest of the people in the building.”
There will also be a room in which patrol officers can write their reports and a small gym.
On the second floor, scattered offices that house about a dozen detectives in the current police department will be replaced with spacious offices connected by a large conference room.
The third floor will house administrative offices including one in the northeast corner for the chief. Part of the top floor is currently going to be left untouched. It will be used when further expansion is needed.
To the rear of the police department property, a 19,000-square-foot maintenance garage is under construction. It will have parking for 24 cars, six service bays for police vehicles and a wash bay.
“It will also have room for some storage which is sorely needed,” Spargur said. “Right now we have equipment scattered all over the city.”
Moving day into the new police department is expected to happen in early summer of 2016.