Meridian Star

May 19, 2013

MPD prepares for big move

By Brian Livingston /
The Meridian Star

MERIDIAN —     Members of the Meridian Police Department working from the cramped, aging police station on Sixth Street are looking forward to the upcoming move to the new police station on 22d Avenue where renovations are about complete.

    MPD Acting Chief James Sharpe, who has been working in the current location since he joined the force in 1992, compares the present building and working conditions to having to work from a cardboard box.

    "We will be moving into a state of the art, brand new facility befitting a police force of the 21st Century," Sharpe said. "It will be like night and day in terms of the working conditions and what we will be able to do as police officers. It will be great."

    Sharpe conducted a short tour recently of the current facility that MPD has called home since 1975.

    The ceiling tile and walls appear to have mold on them, officers and detectives work in small, cramped spaces, and the air quality is not good, which are just a few of the problems that have plagued the building over the years.

    Inside the department's Criminal Investigation Division, up to eight detectives share one room that is roughly 14 feet wide by 20 feet long.

    "We are going to need a map of the new facility to find our way, at least until we get used to all the room we will have," said Greg Crain, one of the detectives for the MPD. "It will be absolutely amazing."

    Sharpe said the CID will benefit greatly from the move as the new facility will provide detectives with their own office, separate interview rooms and areas, a waiting lounge that will keep victims and suspects away from the general public coming in and out of the front of the facility, and much more.

    In the past it has been difficult for detectives to conduct a basic component of any investigation — the interview. Because of limited space in the current building, detectives would have to sometimes conduct interviews while other detectives were in the room amid multiple conversations and ringing telephones.

    "Most importantly the victim would not want to be seen, much less have someone overhear what they were saying," Detective Shane Massey said. "By having the new facility with the rooms we will have, victims and witnesses will feel more comfortable, thereby freeing them up to give us the information we need to solve a crime."

    In the Sixth Street building, even lineups are conducted from the detectives' room. A small one way glass, smaller than a normal home window, is covered with a piece of cardboard. The new facility boasts a lineup room as large as the viewing room, in which witnesses will be able to move around in comfortably.

    The new police station is located in the former Cowboy Maloney building and will provide 44,000 square feet of working space that boats lots of storage space and plenty of room for staff and administrative offices.  

    In comparison, Patrol Division commander Capt. Wade Johnson's office in the current building was actually intended to be a closet.

    The city will pay rent over a period of 20 years for a minimum of $8.2 million, including $2.1 million the city will pay up front from funds derived from police department seized property. The annual rent will be $305,000, with possible increases based on the consumer price index every five years.

    On May 23, a ribbon cutting and open house at the new police station will be take place beginning at 10 a.m. The public is invited to attend the ribbon cutting and to tour the facility. Sharpe said it is a shame that the majority of the public has never been inside the current facility to appreciate what the police force has had to endure.

    "This new facility will enable us to do things we couldn't do in the old one," Sharpe said. "We will be a better police force. That is a given. We will be more efficient and better able to conduct our business like never before."