Friday, January 8, 2010

Bexley police station an arresting improvement by John Matuszak for Bexley Public Radio

When Robert Holdren joined the Bexley Police Department 13 years ago, he was told there would be a new station within two years.

It took a little bit longer than that, but on Dec. 31 Holdren and the other officers walked into a brand new, fully operational facility on the city's north side.

Bexley's new $7.5 million police station on the city's north side became operational Dec. 31. The project, which replaced a much smaller, 55-year-old building on Main Street, came in on time and under budget. Photo by John Matuszak.

Holdren reported that, on taking possession of the 19,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art station, morale immediately shot up for the 28 members of the force. They had been accustomed to a work site about one-third of that size, built more than 50 years ago as a fire station.

Gone are the cramped spaces and leaky ceilings of the Main Street station. But the improvements are about more than comfort and convenience for Bexley's cops. The $7.5 million project was designed to enhance law enforcement capabilities and bolster the safety of residents.

The differences are obvious as soon as you walk into the roomy lobby. A safety room to the left provides an escape for crime victims who are being pursued. The walls of the lobby are bullet-proof, as evidenced by the marks left by a carpenter who broke his bit trying to drill into them.

An array of new communications technology flashes on the other side of the dispatcher's window. The screens give officers a 360-degree view of the station grounds, and improved contact with the cruisers out on the street. There is even a screen that tracks weather conditions. Most of these advances were difficult or impossible to install at the old station.

The station's communications center has been upgraded, and will no longer double as the roll call room, eliminating crowding and distractions. Photo by John Matuszak.

And the communications room will no longer double as the roll call room, which created distractions for officers and dispatchers. Many rooms in the old station had served multiple purposes, often at the same time. One of the major improvements will be spaces dedicated to specific functions, from roll call to training to interviewing crime victims and suspects.

The prisoner holding area now has three cells. The old station had one that was usable. The new facility also has a secure cruiser bay to bring in prisoners, eliminating the need to walk them from the outside. Security for the police property room has also been improved.

Officers now have a weight room and spacious locker rooms with showers. More than an amenity, the equipment will help officers pass the physical fitness tests held twice a year. The showers will allow those working up a sweat, or those who run into dirty conditions on the job, to clean up at the station instead of at home, getting them back on the street quicker.

The firing range provides enhanced training for officers, and it doesn't leak when it rains.

The firing range takes up most of the third floor. Equipment at the old range frequently broke down, and puddles formed when it rained. The new range allows officers to practice under day or night conditions and from multiple angles, more closely mirroring actual situations they might encounter.

Sergeant Robert Martin, a veteran of more than 30 years' service, was one of the skeptics who thought "I'll believe it when I see it" after witnessing innumerable delays in getting the project off the ground.

Now that he sees it, he's very pleased, although he'll only get to enjoy it for about a year before retiring. But he did acknowledge that the station will provide a big advantage in recruiting new officers to replace those who will be leaving in the near future.

A ribbon-cutting and dedication is being planned for the spring.

Bexley Public Radio Foundation broadcasting as
WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM, Local Power Radio
2700 E. Main St., Suite 208
Columbus, OH 43209
Voice (614) 235 2929
Fax (614) 235 3008

Bexley Public Radio Foundation is exempt from federal taxes under IRC Section 501(c)(3). Donations are deductible from federal income taxes for individuals who itemize. Checks may identify the payee as Bexley Public Radio Foundation WCRX-LP, 102.1 FM.

Design is copyright 2010. All rights reserved. Bexley Public Radio Foundation. Text is copyright 2010. All rights reserved. John Matuszak. Photos are copyright 2010. All rights reserved. John Matuszak.

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