Tumwater police station getting makeover

Holding cells and iPads will be part of the project

ckrotzer@theolympian.comAugust 24, 2013 

Tumwater Police Department officers and staff are eagerly waiting to move into the newest addition to the station as construction crews remodel the original structure.

The police station, as well as the roof of City Hall, are both under construction this summer. The roof is expected to be completed in the next two weeks.

Tumwater’s police building, built in 1987, originally was intended more for office space than a police station. It lacked proper holding cells, evidence rooms, interview rooms and a sally port.

That will all change when the renovation is complete. Ground broke in February on the project, which will cost between $3.3 million and $4 million and add 5,000 square feet to the west side of the existing station. The bulk of that project is being paid for through the city’s public safety levy lid lift approved in 2011.

The lift raised $1.44 million in property taxes last year to fund police and fire department projects.

The lack of proper holding cells has been a constant security issue. Those in custody are walked through offices to a makeshift 14-by-10-foot cell and must use the same bathrooms as staff.

“We have had our fair share of unruly people in what we call a holding cell,” said Tumwater Police Chief John Stines. “We have had to walk prisoners through working areas to the holding room, which is just not OK.”

The finished project will feature separate cells with restrooms, a Breathalyzer testing room, a spot for evidence, forensics interview room, and a sally port ensuring the safe entry and exit of inmates.

There will also be a conference room — something lacking in the current facility.

“There is no meeting space now,” Stines said. “We just congregate in the largest space available.”

The new conference area will feature plenty of technological upgrades, including a new system involving iPads and Apple TV thanks to an annual $12,000 technology grant.

The department is scheduled to move into the new space Oct. 1, giving construction crews access to the original space, which will be upgraded to include the needed holding cells.

In the interim, the station will continue to do without proper cells.

“It’s going to be a period with issues, but they won’t be horrific,” Stines said. “We are used to adapting.”

It will be between three and six months before the full project is complete.

The final facility will also feature 23 surveillance cameras, versus the handful currently in the station. Also, the department parking lot will be fenced.

Chelsea Krotzer: 360-754-5476 ckrotzer@theolympian.com ckrotzer@theolympian

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