TPD out of space

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Space limitations, parking issues and old age are all challenges the Tallahassee Police Department faces at its current headquarters on East Seventh Avenue.

At present, a new headquarters is under construction, but the department will be in its current space for at least two more years. ABC 27 got an exclusive insight into the challenges within the department and the need for a new multi-million dollar facility.

It is a building that has stood the test of time. The Tallahassee Police Department has been housed in its 70,000 square foot building on East Seventh Avenue since the 1970s. As the city has grown, so has the department.

“Space is a huge problem,” explained TPD Police Chief Lawrence Revell. “We have areas like our criminal investigations office where the cubes are stacked, and they’re piled up in every space.”

It’s not better. In 2017, a report by Architects Design Group and presented to city leaders showed 585 personnel within the TPD. Chief says they are now down to 602 and have 33 other vacancies.

Filling these positions means filling more space in the old school building which no longer has room to grow.

“When you have an agency of over 600 people, when you’re trying to do things like ‘all hands’ meetings or even have community events, we have to do everything outside of that building,” the chief explained. .

Parking is another issue. Empty spaces in the gated and secured lot can be difficult to find.

“We have 602 employees and we have 178 spaces here at the police department,” the chief added. “People park on sidewalks and anywhere they can find a place to park.”

A solution is in preparation.

Jay Smith is Vice President of AJAX Building Company. In the fall of 2021, ABC 27 spoke with him about the work his company has done to clear land on the site of the former Northwood Center.

“It will give them the opportunity to consolidate a lot of their different services that are happening all over the place into one complex, it’s a new secure site,” Smith said.

TPD Detective Russ Underwood said the project would make a huge difference to how they operate.

“We have to do a lot of inventory just to keep track of things,” Underwood explained. “There’s not a lot of room here, with each of the different units having to fight for space.”

Mobile trailers house material as evidence takes up more and more space in the secure basement of the current headquarters.

AJAX says the new headquarters will be approximately 170,000 square feet and will accommodate increased community engagement.

“We must work together to keep Tallahassee safe,” the chief added. “The police department itself will never solve all crimes. The police department itself will never solve all social problems. By building partnerships and trust, that’s where we start to have an impact.

With plans for a community hall in the new complex seating up to 300 people, the chef said he plans to strengthen ties with the communities served by his department.

AJAX says the estimated cost of building the new headquarters is $76 million. The chef says they are still on track to be in the new building by the end of 2024.

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