Chief Asks for Safety, Structure in Police Station Remodeling

Police Chief Asks for Safety and Structure in Police Station Remodelingthank_you_201303rs014_Darlene_Bignotti

(C. Proxmire, Feb. 28, 2013, Pictures from Ferndale Friends, 2009)

Planning is coming along on the police station and courthouse remodeling projects, with Ferndale City Council expected to approve the selection of the architect at the Feb. 25, 2013 council meeting.

The Patrick T. Sullivan Police Station, named after a former Chief, was built in 1964 and has had very little work done since.  In the 1980s the old metal cellblocks were replaced with plexiglass walls as an anti-suicide measure.  And at some point the police cars became too big for the prisoner release garage, known as a “sally port,” so that area of the building was re-purposed.

Police Chief Timothy Collins explained the problems with the station at the Nov. 26, 2012 council meeting, and Council voted to move ahead with the planning.  On Jan. 28, 2013 they voted to hire Plante Moran CRESA to be the project consultant.  The City will also be remodeling the courthouse as part of this project, which you can read about in more detail at

Collins told council that “primarily the things we want to focus on any type of improvements to the building has to do with prisoner security and officer safety.”  He said that the lack of a sally port poses potential risks when taking prisoners in for booking.  He said that prisoners are processed in view of the public and in areas open to civilian employees. He explained other security enhancements that would make their jobs safer without costing a lot of money.nicholas-schrock-allstate

Beyond the immediate concern of safe prisoner transport, is the need for an efficient workspace. Storage is a huge problem.  Collins said there is “50 years of accumulation of files and evidence which must be stored,” plus “storage of equipment and necessary consumables not necessary in 1964.  We go through more rubber gloves that you would ever consider because in this day and age that’s a necessity we have to deal with on a daily basis.”

There also isn’t enough space for the public that uses the facility.  Lawyers meeting with their client are cramped into a room the size of a small closet, with a slit in the wall to talk to their client. The waiting room is simply a small square area with plastic chairs and no public restroom.

The heating and ventilation in the building are in need of modernization.  Chief Collins explained that over the dinos02sidelogoyears the area above the drop ceiling has been filled with cables and wires due to new technologies, and that it seems to have impacted the flow of heat through the building.

“We’ll set a fan in the hallway to make sure we’re blowing hot air into the cell block area ‘cause it can get cold,” he said.

Councilperson Mike Lennon, a former police officer with the Ferndale PD empathized with Collins’ presentation.  “I know these facilities well, and they are inadequate, and they have been for a really long time.”

Overall the project should take a year to a year and a half to complete for both buildings.  The money will be coming from a Building Fund established 12 years ago made up of money set aside from each ticket’s fine.  By the end of the fiscal year there will be $2 million dollars to use towards the project.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On Feb. 25, 2013 Council approved allowing City Manager April McGrath to enter into negotiations with French and Associates for a fixed fee agreement for $97,500 for architectural services for this project.  The consulting from Plante Moran CRESA comes with a cost of up to $45,000, depending on how many hours of service used.

One concern was how the police department would function without a station during the remodeling.  Chief Collins responded that they would likely team up with another department and share space at their station.  The other option is to set up a temporary headquarters. Those details will be worked out by the city and by Plante Moran CRESA as the process moves forward.

For more information about the contracts see the City Council agenda packet for Feb. 25, 2013 at


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