Public to get first look at $15 million Police Department design plans

By: Victoria Mitchell, | Royal Oak Review | Published April 17, 2017

ROYAL OAK — Members of the community will have the opportunity April 20 to see design plans for a new Police Department headquarters proposed on city-owned property adjacent to the 44th District Court.

Royal Oak Community Engagement Specialist Judy Davids said Police Chief Corey O’Donohue will present the police station design plans to the public at 8 p.m. Thursday, April 20, on city cable TV station WROK.

“The presentation can also be viewed on Facebook and YouTube live,” she said.

Davids said the plans will be available online too.

“I feel very, very good about it,” O’Donohue said. “I think it was a collaborative effort; every police officer got to put his mark on it. It really was a collaborative process.”

The chief said plans for the building have stuck to original needs and estimates.

O’Donohue said plans for the less than 40,000-square-foot, $15 million building began back in 2014 when Jeff Surnow approached the commission asking for an exclusivity agreement to develop the city-owned property reaching from Knowles Street to Main Street for a Royal Oak City Center, including a new police station. The current building is about 29,000 square feet, and according to an independent feasibility study by Plante Moran CRESA, the building would be too costly to repair, restructure and redesign.

Design plans were reviewed by the firm, which stated that the plans fall within industry standards.

“My focus from the very beginning was to have an efficient police operation,” O’Donohue said. “Of course I want a nice building, but we want efficiency in our operation, and that was the goal, and I think we’ve achieved that with this design.”

The chief said the existing building, built in 1962, lacks needed space, security and officer functionality.

“It was a good building for police work at the time, but over time, things have changed,” he said. “This building is inadequate to be a modern police building.”

O’Donohue said that when the building was constructed, the only technology the department used was a telephone and a radio that went out to the cars.

“There is very little question we need a new building,” he said.

O’Donohue describes the proposed building as a good-running sedan, not a Cadillac, and he is confident after much back-and-forth between Partners in Architecture and all personnel, that the new building will satisfy his department’s needs.

O’Donohue said increased efficiencies programmed into the plans will put more officers on the streets. He said getting officers on road patrol was a large consideration when coming up with the designs.

O’Donohue said the proposed location for the new station directly adjacent to the north side of the 44th District Court building will be one of those timesavers. The police station will be connected to the courthouse via a walkway, allowing prisoner transport by court personnel.

Another efficiency is redesigned property storage to free up officer time.

Notable differences between the current building and the new plans include more space in the dispatch area, a vestibule where all visitors could be spaced apart if needed, a first-floor interview room, and a booking area and jail cells on the first floor of the building that could house multiple prisoners while being viewed by dispatch and on-duty leadership.

Currently, the department’s booking area and jail cells are located on the third floor of the station, while dispatch is on the first floor.

“Having a jail cell on the third floor is very unsafe for the officers, is very unsafe for the prisoners and it’s just not efficient,” O’Donohue said.

The new building will include a secured, covered parking area behind the building, which O’Donohue said will lead to greater safety for his officers and better use of time.

“When the car is frozen, you can’t sign on to anything, so the car has to warm up, and then you have to do all of your sign-ons, and you can’t go on the road until you have signed on to all of your stuff,” O’Donohue said. “So in the winter, we can lose 20 minutes per day, per officer, per shift.”

O’Donohue said Partners in Architecture said they believe that one change could result in a savings equal to a full-time officer.

The covered parking would allow the storage of certain equipment near the vehicles.

O’Donohue said the overall design and functionality of the new building was dictated by what was needed on the first floor and the small amount of property available for the building. From that point, a basement and second floor were added with some additional space due to what had to be included on the first floor. Basement and second-floor features include a meeting and training space; safeguards for property handling; a secured, private area for attorney-prisoner consultations; workout areas; and male and female locker rooms.

“Right now we have a station that was built when no one thought a woman would ever want to be a police officer,” O’Donohue said.

The building won’t include a shooting range, something officers have now. O’Donohue said eliminating that function from the building saves about $1 million.

The chief said that for that price, he believes his officers could use the range of a neighboring department. He is in talks with the Madison Heights police chief to do so.

O’Donohue said that sharpshooting is only one aspect of firearms training and that other exercises involving scenario and judgment could occur in the department’s new training room on the second floor.

The chief said other aspects of the plans that the public will see include green initiatives, such as a green roof. The chief said other green initiatives, like heating and cooling, would have to be discussed and analyzed based on cost.

O’Donohue said that if the City Commission approves the plans, the project could begin in August.

For more information and links to WROK, visit ROMI.gov.