A free community room for local groups, a climate controlled garage and enough space to accommodate a doubling of the current police force highlight the new Detroit Lakes police station's focus on the future of policing in the city.
The new $6.7 million, 21,000 square foot building, across from the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center on Holmes Street, is a building the current police department will be able to grow into in the years to come, according to Detroit Lakes Police Chief Steven Todd.
"If you build it for that future growth, and project that future growth, than they won't ever have to dig another footing," said Todd.
The front desk area showcases old photographs, donated by the Becker County Museum, family members of former officers and their own archival photos, and present a look into the history of policing in Detroit Lakes.
Just off the front desk area is the community room, which is available to be reserved for free by local groups to hold meetings in a space designed to accommodate up to 35 people, or be used as a center of operations, if an emergency, weather or otherwise, occurs, said Todd.
The old police station had only two "bullpen" computers for officers to write reports concerning the day's incidents, but, in the new facility, their are eight computer terminals . Additionally, Todd said, the bullpen's size could double to 16 computers if the police department expands its force capacity in the future.
Currently, the Detroit Lakes Police Department staffs 17 patrol officers and two civilian administration staff.
The offices along the side of the computer area are for senior ranking police officers, and investigators, both of which have room to expand their staffs as the city, and police force, are expected to grow in coming years.
"This first (office) is for a future deputy chief position that doesn't exist today," he said. "But, it'll need to exist in the future."
Wainscoting panels wrap the walls of the bullpen area and protects the walls from scrapes from officers due to the extra width needed for officers to walk the hallways in their equipment belts. Todd said, once officers don their belts, their equipment can add between 4 to 6 inches of body width, which officers sometimes forget about and scrape the wall.
He also said he has a wall screen in his office where he can watch live or archived interrogations from one of three interrogation rooms. He added this video streaming would allow more officers to watch interrogations live and assist officers conducting the interrogations by asking questions through text messaging.
The interrogation rooms themselves feature automatic recording systems with microphones that turn-on once an officer uses their key card to enter the room.
"There are two of these (interrogation rooms)," Todd said. "On the other side of the hallway is an exact replica of this room, which helps us if we have more than one person that we need to interview, we can place them in the other room and they can be interviewed at the same time."
New locker rooms for male, and female, officers also provide more space than the old police station. Additionally, Todd said, he wants to encourage his force members to exercise for up to an hour, on the clock, during their 12-hour shifts in an effort to unplug, limit stress and stay healthy.
He said he would try to get the City Council to give his police officers memberships to the Detroit Lakes Community and Cultural Center gym so they can stay in good physical condition and promote healthier lifestyles within the force.
"We really need to start embracing the officer wellness idea that we want to give our officers a chance to be physically fit," said Todd. "They are working 12-hour shifts, and if you've got little kids at home … it's kind of hard for you to jump back in the car and head to the fitness center after a long day like that."
He said he wants to create a program inside the police to department to combat the two conditions that give officers the most health problems: heart disease and back troubles.
"Both of those things can be mitigated by cardiovascular exercise," said Todd. "So I'd like to see the city start paying for memberships to the DLCCC. It's a city owned building … and I would go even one step further and say, 'if you're working a 12-hour shift, and we're fully staffed, you can go work out for one hour during your work day,' because it's that important."
The evidence room, and armory, have 24-hour camera coverage and logged, key-carded entries, which will limit entries to only designated personnel. The evidence room also has an additional room with a key-card entry, and key-code, to access the evidence collected from drug, and money, seizures, he said.
The underground parking garage showcases the police department's sign from their old building and has spaces for up to 13 patrol cars at one time. Currently, Todd said, the department only has 11 vehicles, which are never all in the garage at the same time due to the duty shifts of the officers.
Wireless transmitters in the garage's ceiling automatically download the dashboard camera data from every squad car when they enter the garage. Todd said, in the future, the same automatic wireless data transfer could be done with officer-worn body cameras depending on the type of system the police department decides to use once they implement their own procedures.
Additionally, the underground garage has a built-in vehicle forensic station, which officers will be able to conduct in-depth search warrants on vehicles suspected of dangerous crimes with potential DNA evidence.
Two other features of the new police station are the "lockdown" foyer and safe-exchange parking spaces. The outside doors of the police station will remain unlocked 24-hours a day and the foyer can be used by a person in distress after hitting the "lockdown" button inside the entry way, which will lock the outside doors and record the interactions of the parties. Todd said if someone was being chased near the police station all they would have to do is make it into the entry, hit the button, and they will be safe in the foyer until officers arrive.
"If, for example, somebody was out for a walk and somebody was threatening them, or chasing them, they'd be able to take refuge inside the vestibule and hit that button," he said, "and, it would lock the outer doors, the camera would be recording with motion, and then, theoretically, we'd get some sort of alert that something was going on."
The safe exchange spaces in the northeast corner of the parking lot, which haven't been marked with parking space signs yet due to the lot needing another coat of asphalt, will serve as a meeting place for anyone who needs an additional layer of video protection in any exchange.
Todd said he envisioned people who bought, or sold, something online that requires an in-person delivery would use these spaces because of the 24-hour surveillance capability, which adds another layer of protection when meeting a stranger. He also said he could see the spaces being utilized for custody exchanges of children, if one of the parties feels uncomfortable with the other parent.
The police station was designed by BKV Group, an architecture firm from the Twin Cities, after receiving input from Todd, and others, about innovations done by other cities when constructing their own police stations.
The new police station cost $6.7 million is being paid for by a local option sales tax, which began taking collection in October 2019. The tax was expected to run until 2028 to pay off the new building, but, due to higher than predicted sales within the city, the new station is projected to be paid off in full by fall of 2023.
A public open house date is still up in the air, Todd said, because they want to finish the grading, and sidewalks, in the parking lot area before they invite the public to see the completed facility. However, he does think the open house will occur in the upcoming months.
"The fact is not lost on us that our community supported us, our city leaders supported us, and our service groups supported us," Todd said. "We are grateful for that and we're so thankful to be in this building and we want to share it with the community."