Columbus Police eye move at end of year

February 24, 2019

The Columbus Police Department’s 2019 will be busy. It has already added back a second school resource officer position and is in the process of finalizing its new K-9 unit. But its biggest change will come when officers make the jump from the department’s present location at 2419 14th St. down the block to the corner of 14th Street and 23rd Avenue, the former home of Gene Steffy Ford.

Columbus Police Chief Charles Sherer said he is hoping that move will come on about Nov. 1 of this year, a few weeks after construction is tentatively slated to be complete.

“I think it was important we stayed downtown; I think we’re an anchor to the downtown area and the business community, and I wanted to maintain that presence,” Sherer said, noting he was thankful the city already had the land in it its possession in anticipation of building a new library/cultural arts center that voters rejected previously. “I think it gives us a central location.”

That downtown location also just made good sense for his staff, which boasts about 50 positions in all. The CPD features 36 sworn officers and eight non-sworn officers (two-and-a-half animal control positions, a part-time maintenance role, two clerks and three community service technicians) Dispatchers will be moving to the new combined facility with Platte County, which is a separate project. CPD clerks, he noted, do a lot of work in the downtown area, such as at the Platte County Courthouse.

Construction on the new police station is going smoothly.

“It’s going really well and on schedule,” said B-D Vice President/Project Manager Chris Langan, who is the lead on the new 26,321-square-foot police station. “We don’t see any problems meeting the expected completion dates.”

In early February, B-D workers were progressing on the second level of the two-level station.

“The metal stud framing is ongoing, and closing in the building will happen in the spring,” Langan said. “You’ll start to see more brick and aluminum glass storefronts by mid-summer.”

The station, when complete, should be immaculate. Sherer said while out of town at a conference he came across Police Facility Design Group, an architectural firm based out of Kansas City, Missouri, that specializes in designing police stations all over the country. The group was ultimately selected to design the station in Columbus, working with Sherer and other local officials to create the look of the state-of-the-art facility, while B-D is lead on construction.

“I’m really looking forward to being in there. I think we’re going to be much more effective in that facility,” Sherer said.

The first floor will boast plenty of room for evidence property, a much-needed and welcome change for the department.

“It will be up-to-date evidence processing,” Sherer said. “Evidence right now is distributed to three different locations. In the new police department, we’ll have one evidence property room. So evidence processing is going to be much better. Officers will have a better place to organize their work, their reports.”

The first floor will also feature a roomier squad room and the detention portion with enhanced holding cells, which will be right off a private heated area in the back of the building where officers will be able to park.

On a morning in mid-February, Langan was walking around the first floor as B-D employees were working in various spaces, noting the masonry work in the holding cell area was complete.

Langan said just outside the holding cells will be a modest exterior dog run – approximately 4-feet-wide-by-40-feet-long – that will give the CPD’s dog some space for exercise once part of the force.

The first floor will also have room for animal control (the first time CPD’s animal control unit will be in the same building), as well as for patrol officers.

During a tour of the site, Langan made a point to show off space just above the building’s eventual entryway that was made specifically for a bronze sculpture that will feature a Columbus Police badge. The sculpture will rest prominently above the main entrance and be visible to all people passing by.

“That’s going to sit on the ledge and everything will be all glass in the entryway,” he said.

Langan didn’t hold back his enthusiasm for construction of the new police facility, noting he was appreciative of the city for bringing on B-D and other local subcontractors (approximately 90 percent, he said) to bring it to life.

“I think it’s great. It shows the city cares about trying to keep the community busy,” he said. “We’ve built relationships with the chief, who has been great. He wants to be involved as much as possible. But this is just good for the community as well to have local companies involved.”

The second level of the station will feature the support division of the department, investigators, the chief’s office and space for his administrative assistants, as well as a multiuse room for training and community events. Additionally, there will be a gym with separate male and female locker rooms for officers to train and keep in shape.

“This new station is giving us the opportunity to spread our wings a little bit. Our officers will not be confined to such a small area,” Sherer said, noting the new station is being built with some enhanced features so that it can be used for decades beyond his tenure. “I think we’ve filled (our current station) to capacity. We’re growing beyond its walls, so this station is going to help provide us the space we need because of that obvious growth.”

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at matt.lindberg@lee.net.