DeKALB – If he wasn’t sure before that the new DeKalb police station was in the right place, Police Chief Gene Lowery had it confirmed for him during construction.
Lowery said several Northern Illinois University students have visited the station at 700 W. Lincoln Highway in the past few months, attempting to make a report.
“So we serviced them, we got an officer down here to make the report, but it just pointed out to us, that students will be more interactive with us. That’s good,” Lowery said. “We’re not going to be tucked away down on Fourth Street.”
This month, the 35,000-square foot, $12.7 million building should open to the public, Lowery and officials told the Daily Chronicle this week.
The transition to the new station is in the final stages, Lowery and officials said this week, with information technology, furniture, door security systems, programming and some flooring among the few things left to finish before a few moving trucks will take over everything else from the old station in city hall to the new building.
DeKalb police Cmdr. Jason Leverton said there are plans for a public open house once the station opens, with a target of late November.
“We’ll pretty much have it all opened up,” Leverton said. “We’ll have officers stationed in the building to answer questions and pretty much anybody will be welcome to do that.”
Lowery and Leverton emphasized the building will have a major effect on bringing the police force up to a modern standard from its current conditions on the first floor of the municipal building at 200 S. Fourth St.
Communications and dispatchers already have made the move to the new building, and saw an upgrade from three dispatch stations to five, along with a technology upgrade.
“We’re coming from a facility that has long outlived its usefulness, and in many ways is not as safe or as efficient as this new facility,” Lowery said. “So this facility is professionally designed to meet the needs of a modern police department.”
Among the significant upgrades in the new building, the department has a separate booking area with its own entrances and exits designed for a safer process for police and arrestees. Duress buttons are throughout the booking area in case a situation gets out of hand and additional officers are needed. And the overnight holding cell for intoxicated arrestees has a drain and can be flushed from outside the cell.
The records room also is separate from the rest of the department for the first time, allowing members of the investigations department have their own workspaces, and evidence technology has seen a major upgrade.
“I think one of the best parts of the building is just being able to functionally separate our duties,” Leverton said. “Because right now we step over each other all the time.”
Lowery was especially excited about is the training/community room on the second floor. He views it as a way to integrate more with the community.
“We’re already scheduling classes for the officers,” he said. “We’ll have a lot more training available to us that we’ve never had before, so that’s huge for us internally.”
All that’s left now is to move.
“I almost describe it like we’re kids in a candy store or kids waiting for Christmas,” Lowery said. “We can’t wait to rip the paper off of those gifts and get in. But we’re being as patient as we can, trying to temper ourselves.”