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Berwyn officials approve study for police facility expansion

Published: Thursday, Nov. 21, 2013 11:24 a.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Nov. 22, 2013 2:14 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Bill Ackerman - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Four records clerks desks fill the space available, with filing cabinets lining both sides of the office at the Berwyn Police Department. The department may need to expand its office space. A feasibility study is in the works.

BERWYN – In 1999, Berwyn broke ground for a new Police Department complex that would reflect the newest and most innovative features that law enforcement had to offer at that time.

It was opened for business in March 2001. Today, it is known as a pre-9/11 building.

The City Council unanimously approved the contracting of a feasibility study regarding potential additions at the Police Department complex, 6401 31st St., it met Nov. 12.

In a letter to the City Council and Mayor Robert Lovero, City Administrator Brian Pabst explained a number of safety and security requirements needed to be instituted within the complex in the wake of the terrorist attack on Sept. 11, 2001.

As a result, the facility “needs to be evaluated to identify the deficiencies and related costs.”

Pabst also stated the department has experienced functional issues pertaining to inadequate space. For example, there is only one holding cage, that, when in use, forces officers to place other detainees in areas not designed for such purposes.

The department has a total of 10 sergeants who share one office with two or three sergeants on duty at any given time. A civilian records clerk and sworn court officer share an office, and the records and dispatch departments are working in “a very, limited environment,” according to Pabst.

Storage has become a big problem as well, Pabst reported.

Prompting the need for a feasibility study is the fact that the city intends to apply for a variety of grants to pay for any improvements or additions at the Police Department. The study provides the due diligence required during the grant application process.

Police Commander Tom O’Halloran said it wasn’t a matter of Homeland Security issuing directives in terms of how police departments are specifically equipped.

“But if you ask for grants, Homeland Security asks, ‘How are you securing your facility?’” O’Halloran said. “It’s part of the process. We can’t get over the first hurdle of what we need because they don’t have the study.”

O’Halloran added the department isn’t counting only on federal grants, but is equally interested in state grants or any other grants the department may qualify for. Meanwhile, the need remains for more room.

“We’re running out of space and things just aren’t flowing functionally,” O’Halloran said. “We have more technology [and] equipment, and [the department’s] server rooms are packed to capacity. We are getting more efficient, but it also requires more equipment.”

Elgin-based Lamp Inc. has been selected to do the study at an amount not to exceed $24,900.

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