Wilson Estes Police Architects was recently invited to present the results of a Police Facility Needs Assessment Study prepared for the City of Lawrence, Kansas in 2012. James Estes and Paul J. Michell were part of a group that spoke to members of over twenty classes of the Lawrence Citizen’s Police Academy regarding the condition and space deficiencies of the Police Department’s current facilities. The Police Department currently operates out of two separate facilities separated by five miles. One facility is shared with Douglas County and is primarily Uniformed Patrol, Police Records and Evidence Storage. The second facility was previously a laboratory facility and is primarily Administration, Investigations and Training. They also utilize space at four other locations for a variety of storage and miscellaneous operational purposes. The current facilities are inadequate in space and parking, and do not offer the necessary acreage for building expansion or necessary increases in parking for both the public and personnel. There are also numerous issues with the physical condition of the facilities as it relates to roof leaks, environmental concerns, security issues, and aging and deficient mechanical, electrical and technology infrastructure, all of which hamper efficient police operations.
The Need Assessment Study concluded that the Lawrence Police Department has significant space needs that their current facilities cannot address. A new single facility costing approximately $30 million and of about 103,000 square feet would serve their growing department through the year 2032. Given the anticipated growth of the City and Police Department, the facility would reach a “perfect fit” at that point in time but should serve their needs beyond then without significant changes. The key to providing continued growth capacity relates to the choice of a site of adequate size so that both the building and parking can be expanded in the future, thus creating a situation where the City should not need to consider new facilities again for the foreseeable future. Given the historic escalation rates of construction costs and the expense of this type of facility, planning for long-term growth is usually considered the most prudent use of public funds.
The City’s next steps relate to consideration of available sites, funding options and continuation of their efforts to inform the public regarding their needs. Wilson Estes Police Architects routinely assists clients during this period of the planning process with informational material, presentations to the public and key project stakeholders, and how technology can be leveraged to build support for new public safety facilities.Image courtesy of the Lawrence Police Department.