The renovated Grosse Pointe Woods Department of Public Safety jail includes an upgraded processing area for fingerprinting, mug shots and video arraignments.

The renovated Grosse Pointe Woods Department of Public Safety jail includes an upgraded processing area for fingerprinting, mug shots and video arraignments.

Photo by Maria Allard

Grosse Pointe Woods completes jail renovation

Woods will share services with Grosse Pointe Shores

By: Maria Allard | Grosse Pointe Times | Published July 16, 2019

GROSSE POINTE WOODS — Just over a year ago, construction began on the renovation of the Grosse Pointe Woods Department of Public Safety’s jail.

The project is now complete, and the upgrades have brought about a more spacious jail that enhances efficiency and a more secure building.

The Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department received a $500,000 grant to renovate the jail. In addition, the City of Grosse Pointe Woods put in a total of $146,476 for the project.

There were several reasons why officials said that renovating the lockup area was necessary.

“The building was built in the early 1950s, and for a long time we operated with two jail cells,” Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Director John Kosanke said. “Right across the cells was the detective bureau, and the (prisoner) lockup area was not weapon-free. You had prisoners near detectives who were armed. The detective bureau was moved to where the old fire quarters were kept.”

Other factors were considered.

“You couldn’t have a male and female in the same area,” Kosanke said.  “Because of certain laws, juveniles had to be placed in an area that was out of sight from adults.”

Because of that, arrestees were sometimes placed in neighboring jurisdictions. Other issues arose on court dates.

“On a court date, we would have five or six prisoners. We couldn’t house them here,” Kosanke said.

The former jail cell doors had bars on them, which Kosanke said was a risk because prisoners could have hanged themselves. The new doors are sans bars.

“This takes care of prisoners that might want to harm themselves,” Kosanke said.

The renovations include two standard jail cells, a holding area, a cell that meets the Americans with Disabilities Act’s criteria, and a bullpen cell that can hold multiple inmates at one time. The revamping also provides an area where victims and complainants can make public safety reports with more privacy than before, and there are three interview rooms.

The upgraded lockup facility also houses a new processing area where suspects are fingerprinted, have their mug shots taken and where video arraignments from various courts can be conducted. There’s also a locker area where personal belongings of those arrested are stored.

“The officer has to write down all their property,” Kosanke said.

In the new jail, all movements and activity are documented throughout the building via video and audio surveillance.

“Everything is secure. Everything is on camera,” Kosanke said. “We’ve added a lot of cameras.”

The Grosse Pointe Woods Public Safety Department averages less than one prisoner per day. On average, most prisoners are locked up for about two days.

The new jail also begins a new partnership between the public safety departments of Grosse Pointe Shores and Grosse Pointe Woods. Grosse Pointe Shores will now house its prisoners in the Grosse Pointe Woods jail and also utilize its dispatch services.

“The grant was done to provide lockup and dispatch consolidation between Grosse Pointe Woods and Grosse Pointe Shores,” Kosanke said. “It’s consolidated into one operation. We’re sharing services, which cuts down on costs. The consolidation will be completed within the next two to three months.”

“It was a way to consolidate services and save some funds. I’m hoping it will continue ... for a long time to come,” Grosse Pointe Shores Public Safety Director John Schulte said. “They will detain all of our prisoners. All of our residents’ 911 calls will go to the (Woods) 911 call center as well as our non-emergency police, fire and medical runs.”

Although Grosse Pointe Woods will house arrestees from Grosse Pointe Shores, Schulte said they will still have their cases heard in the Grosse Pointe Shores Division Court.

“We will go out to bring the individual back,” he said.

Kosanke said he is “very happy” with the updates.

“It was a long project. A lot of work went into it,” he said. “It’s a huge upgrade to our operation. A lot of safety issues have been taken care of. I want to thank the City Council and the City administrators for their support of the project. Also to Harper Woods Public Safety for housing our prisoners while the project was going on. They were a huge help to us.”