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January 10, 2010

Our New Police Headquarters



In the sergeant’s office of the current police department, there is a mysterious powder falling from the ceiling. It has become common to walk into the office with a cup of coffee and instinctively place a piece of paper over the cup as we set it down at a desk so the unexplained substance doesn’t find its way into our java.

The drinking fountain just outside the roll call room has duct tape affixed to it— not because it needs to be held together— but it serves as a reminder not to drink from it. It seems the water that flows from the fountain also contains chemicals it shouldn’t.

The dispatch center is synonymous to a dark, dank cavern— only it has exposed wires throughout. I’m no technological guru but even a layman like myself understands that wires hanging from the ceiling are not ideal.

I share a computer with another lieutenant in an office that was once a closet— literally. Ordinarily this would not be a big deal but it gets interesting at the end of the shift when I have to literally pick up my desktop computer and move it over to his desk. The wires are usually entangled and I have to maneuver the mouse and the keyboard over while keeping the unit in tact.

Several times a month, both the men’s and women’s locker rooms have sewer back up problems that result in unpleasant aromas filling the hallway. These backups really come as no surprise considering the sewer system supporting the current facility was installed during the same timeframe as the building itself— 1966. Back then, Aurora’s police force consisted of around 85 officers and 15 civilian employees. Today, we have over 300 officers and 100 civilians.

Since my office is in the basement, I can only speak of the challenges I face every shift. However, I’m sure the 2nd and 3rd floor occupants can contribute even more workplace hardships.

There is no argument that we have needed a new police station for many years. I have yet to hear people say that we should maintain our current building— especially after they have set foot into it. However, I have fielded some politely inquisitive and carefully worded questions about the new headquarters. Frequently, these are to the tune of, “Do you guys really need something so massive?” (Judging from my experience in the basement alone, I’m probably the wrong person to ask because I want to sing a litany of “Yessssses!” whenever I am asked.)

To be honest, I look at these questions as an opportunity to educate whoever is asking. I am a citizen of Aurora. I pay taxes here and I send my children to the public schools here. Because I wear two hats, I understand the citizens who wonder if too much money was spent on our new headquarters especially in light of the current economic climate. (The new building began taking shape years ago and well before the economic downturn.) As taxpayers, it certainly is appropriate to ask the difficult questions to keep our city government accountable.

Speaking as a citizen, I also know that public safety is crucial to a successful city. I want our firefighters and police officers outfitted with state of the art tools to do their jobs.

As an Aurora police officer, I can tell you that our new police facility will change the way we do business. For you, it means if you are ever the unfortunate victim of a crime, we will have resources and equipment that we have never before had. And yes, it is housed in a beautiful, energy-efficient building that as police officers, we will be proud to call our own. It is a building that we will grow into as our force expands to meet the needs of an abundant city for years to come.

This police department is yours as much as it is ours.

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