Coming together… New building opens doors, much still to be done
BY IVAN SANDERS
The Elizabethton Police Department continues to move closer and closer to being only a few feet apart instead of two blocks as the new portion of the department was recently opened to conduct business while some are still working out of boxes as contractors have quickly moved to renovate the former dentist office located next door.
Once everything is completed, Police Chief Jason Shaw believes that the department will be able to work more efficiently in serving the residents of the city.
“It’s great because it gives us a new building to work out of and a great opportunity,” Chief Shaw shared. “We are very pleased with it so far. There are still a lot of finishing touches to do.
“We worked all of last week just getting things in here from the old building and just finished Monday afternoon getting the things here that we needed.
“We wanted to make sure there was no break in service for the patrol officers,” Chief Shaw continued. “They are the ones that are helping to answer calls and doing the work on the street.
“We had to make sure the computer systems and everything in support of their operations were ready and we were just moving their computers as the contractors were taping up windows and making preparations to start the work in the old building.”
As with any construction work, there are times that often things have to escalate to meet the needs of the contractor doing the work. With most of the work completed on the new building, contractors were ready to move on to getting the older building underway along with the dental office that is being renovated for the police department as well.
“We actually thought that the final things were going to be removed from there today but the contractors were ready and they asked us if at all possible if we could get that done on Monday and we did in hopes of not being the cause of any further delays,” Shaw said.
“There are enough delays that happen naturally during the construction process such as delays in getting something shipped or material or piece of equipment.
“We want to do our best not to cause a delay,” he added. “As far as I am understanding right now, the renovation will now begin on the dentist’s office and the police building over there. If things go as scheduled, we should be looking at the end of June or the first of July as the date that it ought to be finished.
“I am sure those buildings will be just as nice as this building is.”
One of the things that Chief Shaw is looking for anxiously is to get all the elements of the police department in the same vicinity to not only allow for smoother communication but to provide better service to the public and less confusion.
With work still in process, to keep from having to move too many times, the move from the library will take place when all the construction work is completed.
“So they don’t have to move twice, the folks that will be going back into the 525 building, they are in the space where the investigators are going to occupy,” Chief Shaw stated. “When the 525 building is open, those will go back and we will allow the investigators to move in here so we will have everyone out of the space from underneath the library.
“Right now, if someone comes to see an investigator or comes for an interview, we oftentimes have to make sure to explain to them, ‘Hey you have to go to the basement underneath the library.’ So now we will have one public entrance and everybody will be able to come to one place — one location so hopefully that will cut down on any confusion.”
Having the new facility will not only provide more space for the EPD but along with it there has been excitement among the ranks almost like when a family moves into a new home.
“Everybody that I have talked to, we are all proud of this building and it does bring some increase in morale. We are very proud to have it in operation,” Chief Shaw commented.
The new building is opened for business with several options provided to assist the public. One of the first things that will be noticed is the increase in lobby space that will allow for more people to wait to be serviced unlike the old police building.
“We do have our drug takeback box in the lobby and it is operational and ready to use,” the Chief said. “The public can come here and request copies of the reports that they need — a police report or a crash report.
“If you need to come to talk to an officer you can come on in the lobby here. It’s not the size of a phone booth. There is room for a couple of folks to come at the same time and you don’t have to open the doors and there not be any room to wait on someone.
“We will even have a public restroom when we are fully opened.”