The police department moved in on July 16, but the dispatch department didn’t open up shop until July 25th.
“We’d really like to thank Metro Dispatch who let our staff locate there for nine days,” while all the kinks were worked out in the new building, said Ed Toth, chief of police.
He also thanked Huron Valley Ambulance that has been dispatching the fire calls, which normally go through the police department.
And although they’re “still getting things together,” Toth said, the department is thrilled to be in their new home.
Located at the corner of South Main Street and East Summit, the new station is a point of pride for the force that includes 36 full-time and part-time employees.
There are eight full-time officers and an equal number of part-time ones. In addition, there are two parking enforcement officers, eight dispatchers, seven reserve officers and three crossing guards.
“I’m pleased,” said Police Officer Shane Sumner, a member of the force since 2001. “This place is awesome. It looks good, it works, it’s professional and it’s secure.”
Although the officers will tell you that the new 6,600-square-foot police station isn’t fancy, it has all the basics for the police department to do its job. And they actually have room to work without tripping over each other.
“We have a bunch of good people here,” Toth said, “People who deserve a good environment with parking in close proximity.”
Previously, the officers were lucky if they scored a spot in front of the Middle Street station. But the new police station sits across the driveway from the city offices and Chelsea State Bank on three city lots at the corner of South Main Street and East Summit. And there’s plenty of parking near by.
“It’s on budget,” Toth said of the project that’s expected to cost between $2 million and $2.5 million when the last punch list items are complete.
Plus, the building is not being paid for by a millage. The DDA contributed $1 million toward its completion and the rest is being paid by bonds through the general fund.
The new building is 1-story building with a large basement on the lower level – where lockers rooms, lots of storage, three holding cells and evidence rooms among other areas can be found.
The doors to the lobby are open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. and then they are locked down for security. People who want to speak to a police officer after hours can use a call button just inside the front door and they will be buzzed in.
(But please leave your bike-cleat shoes outside the building if you’d like to talk to police, use the public rest room or attend a meeting inside. The bike spikes destroy the new flooring. And, this request will make perfect sense when you see the signs on the front doors.)
“Everything’s computerized,” Toth said, adding that there are 31 cameras mounted around the building that are constantly monitored with multiple view screens both in his corner office and by dispatchers.
Dan Whitesall, who has been a dispatcher for the city for 12 years, said, “With this facility, there’s a pride of ownership and we’re proud to come to work with tools to do our job in an effective manner.”
Whitesall now has the ability to move the computer console he monitors up and down as he keeps an eye on five computer screens while answering 20-30 calls for service a day.
For Patrolman Dennis Hall, who has been with the department since 1977, the new squad room allows him and the other officer’s space to write reports and do other paperwork without being elbow-to-elbow.
You probably recognize Hall because he’s the officer you see at home football and basketball games. Toth said he works many of the school’s and city’s special events.
There are men’s and women’s locker rooms with showers, a multi-purpose room and a training room as well as space for records storage in the basement. And multiple office spaces.
The new building provides a special area for people who want to register their hand guns and for fingerprinting. There’s room for evidence processing, lots of storage and a photo station for mug shots.
Anyone arrested now can be driven into a secure sally port to be processed and locked up in a holding cell.
Previously, the department was housed in a small storefront at 104 East Middle St., which the Chelsea City Council plans to sell.
Toth has repeatedly said when he was named police chief about five years ago; a new police building was one of his top priorities. And it’s something that’s been needed for more than 25 years.