It was only two years ago that Parker’s men and women in blue were feeling the walls closing in on them.
Evidence storage was elevated to a science. Wires hung from the ceiling. Multiple detectives shared a cramped office. The one holding cell was used for storage.
A commission charged in 2008 with studying the possible construction of a new police station declared the conditions at the 16,500-square-foot retrofitted bank building deplorable and strongly advised Parker Town Council to make a priority of building a new facility.
“We were pretty much on top of each other,” said Parker police chief David King. “We were literally running into each other all the time.”
What a difference two years makes. The Parker Police Department is now living much more comfortably in a 53,000-square-foot station near Lincoln Avenue and Dransfeldt Road, just south of Lowe’s Home Improvement store. Sixteen months after moving into the $21 million facility, King says he is still getting used to the additional space.
When the Parker police first moved into the old building near South Parker Road and Hilltop Road in 1994, it had only 27 officers to cover the 11,000 people. The department expanded with the town’s population, with the staff growing nearly 500 percent before relocating in November 2010.
Now there is room for new hires when the time is right. The state-of-the-art dispatch center is only half full and there are plenty of lockers available for patrol officers. Previously, high-ranking department officials were forced to change clothes in their offices.
King proudly showed off the station March 27 and talked frequently about its flow and strategic layout. The victim interview area is far away from the suspect processing unit, ensuring they don’t run into one another. There is quick access to Dransfeldt Road for officers bringing in detainees, as well as those who are being released to family members or friends. Even the employee cafeteria is centralized to promote staff interaction.
An architect that specializes in police station design crafted the building to specifications, and King says the construction cost came in nearly $900,000 under budget.
A multi-purpose room in the center of the station provides an area in which the department can host multi-jurisdiction training sessions, as well as citizen police academies. Additionally, larger pieces of evidence no longer have to be stored off-site. The Parker police actually have an agreement to store evidence for the Lone Tree Police Department, as well as provide assistance on crime scene investigations.
King says there are a few minor components missing, such as a community gathering room near the front lobby and a full-size fitness room. But the six-year chief is not lamenting his situation one bit.
Evidence technician Tommy Steffens now has plenty of room to efficiently bag and tag the important pieces that make up a criminal investigation. They are organized on a series of rolling shelves in a room that makes the former evidence storage unit look like a custodian’s closet.
The building has a garage in which suspect vehicles can be inspected and processed. Another highly sterilized area enables Steffens to use the latest technology to pull fingerprints or analyze forged checks.
The employees – several of whom have been with the department 15-plus years – fought through the tough times in confined spaces, but are reaping the rewards of their patience. Steffens said he was ready for the move to the new building six months ahead of time.
“There was lots of pre-planning,” he said. “We had everything staged for when the day came.”
Aside from more room for the various disciplines in law enforcement, the Parker police were able to add a few upgrades. Officers can now hone their arrest control skills by using each other to play out different scenarios in a room with padded mats on the floor.
“Once again we didn’t have anything like this at our old place where we could come in and practice our tactics,” King said.
Knowing that a bond issue or tax increase to fund capital improvements would have likely failed at the polls, Town Council did some financial maneuvering to make sure it could build two major projects simultaneously: the police station and the Parker Arts Culture and Events Center. Roughly $22 million was allocated for each.
The town purchased 10 acres for the station, which means there is room to expand upon the existing 6-acre campus. However, King says the current model perfectly serves the department’s needs.
“This will be the home of the Parker Police Department for many years to come,” he said.