Top cop outlines wish list for new Breck police station
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge Police Chief Rick Holman has a long wish list of items he’d like to see if the town council decides to build a new police department building.
“Our intent isn’t to design an urban-area police structure,” he told town council members Tuesday night. “The list just seems so long because there’s so much we’re currently lacking.”
Constructing a new police department building or renovating another town-owned structure are among the options a consultant suggested to help the town keep up with future demands. A new police station is the top priority, because officers have far less space than comparable police departments in other towns throughout the nation.
The size limitations frustrate officers, Holman said.
“We make a lot of copies every day, for attorneys, the DA, insurance companies,” he said. “This year, we had to buy a new copier, and we had to buy a substandard one because of space limitations.”
The department also faces a challenge in the records department, where documents are kept for two years. Last year, officers responded to 10,000 calls, most of which required them to fill out reports.
They also don’t have enough room to store their equipment.
“It’s the nature of police work that we have a lot of toys,” Holman said. “We need space to put armories, radios, flashlights and training equipment.”
Each officer is issued about $2,500 worth of equipment and uniforms, including cold-weather gear and boots many departments don’t provide.
“Whenever you have locker rooms,” Holman said, “it’s nice to have running water. And the female officers have to change in a closet.”
The evidence storage is crowded, as well. In 2002, Holman said, police logged in 829 pieces of evidence.
Police don’t even have a place where they can dust items for fingerprints or let a wet shirt dry before removing a blood sample from it.
One major consideration is the layout of the department, which affects how police interact with the public. Federal law requires police to separate juveniles and adults, and police like to keep suspects apart during interviews. The Breckenridge department, however, doesn’t have an interview room.
“If we have four suspects, we don’t have a place to put them,” he said. “You have to have one officer to interview one of them while another guards the others in a separate location. And there are no restrooms in the police department. If someone needs to go to the bathroom, you have to get another officer to escort them downstairs.”
That, too, presents a problem.
“If you have a family of tourists at the counter asking questions and you have to bring in a loud, combative suspect, you don’t like these people to cross paths,” he said.
He also would like to have a sallyport, a large garage that allows officers to access the station out of the public eye. At the county justice center, officers take suspects into the sallyport, close the garage door, lead suspects into a room and lock the door behind them. There, they buzz the officers in the jail, who open a second door, admitting them into the jail. At no time is there a chance for a suspect to escape.
Holman said such basic requests probably would mean the town couldn’t retrofit the existing department. Two weeks ago, consultants said the town hall building was such a hodgepodge of additions, it would be difficult to retrofit.
“We may not be able to hit the ideal,” said Mayor Sam Mamula. “But somewhere between the mess we have now and the ideal is where we’re going to fall.”
The council tentatively plans to hold an executive session next month to discuss what properties throughout town – regardless of who owns them – might be suitable sites for a new department.
“This is not a new problem,” Mamula said. “We discovered this 10 years ago. It’s just an issue that’s been neglected.”
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