After reading Dr. Reid’s comments last week about the proposed police facility, I would like to clarify some issues. I value Dr. Reid’s opinions and wish we had discussed them face-to-face as I had offered in the original article. But since these questions are out there for public consumption, now perhaps the best way to respond is in the same forum.
On the issue of how we came up with a $1.5 million estimate, that was a number submitted to us by a qualified architect and is not a bid amount. We truly do believe the actual bid number will fall somewhat short of that figure but will not know until it goes to formal bid. I have toured other police facilities in the area, especially fairly new facilities, to try to gain from their knowledge and hopefully not make any of their mistakes with this project. Building a police department is far different than building a residential home or even a commercial building from many different aspects, and the costs associated with these specific requirements increases the cost per square foot. It is impossible to mention all construction differences in one newspaper article but one example is a police dispatch center needs to be “hardened” to the point that we can stay operational if hit by a tornado. Another difference is police departments utilize expensive bullet-proof glass to protect dispatch staff, a necessity that although we all think nothing horrible can happen in HSB, we must prepare for it nonetheless.
Do we need 7,000 square feet of space to work in when we have been doing our work in a facility of less than 2,000 square feet? Presently our evidence room is full, all storage rooms are full, and files and equipment are being literally stacked under desks. The city currently does not have an equipped Emergency Operations Center in the event of a local disaster. Citizens coming to report crimes or conduct police-related business are interviewed in a small kitchen area, the only available space in the building. Our dispatch center does not have room to house radio base station equipment, telephone and radio recording equipment, or an internal records management system server. Currently we use the Marble Falls police server to store our reports. There is not enough room within our current facility to store the working files we need to access regularly, much less case files from several years back. The proposed facility addresses all of these shortcomings within its design.
Concerning the issue of the booking facility we propose and whether or not we have checked with the state concerning applicable jail standards, the answer is “yes,” The facility is designed to have a temporary detainment area to allow the officers the safety of booking an individual prior to their transport to the county jail. It is not designed for long-term holding; therefore it will not require any additional staffing. The temporary detainment area is a safety feature that protects officers from aggressive detainees and gives us another level of protection for our personnel. On the question of how many people we actually arrest over the course of a week, let me break it down this way: we typically arrest around 150-175 individuals per year on charges ranging in seriousness from domestic violence assault to a first-degree felony. Does that number justify spending the money for a protective booking area? If just one of those people is determined to hurt one of our officers, my answer is “yes” and I suspect our community feels the same way.
I have known Dr. Reid for some time now and truly welcomed his remarks. He indicates he is a supporter of Horseshoe Bay law enforcement and wants to provide the best for us while at the same time watching out for any excessive or unnecessary spending by our elected and appointed city representatives. I can assure you that we share those same conservative values with him as my tax dollars as well as those of every member of the City Council will be used to build this facility if it is approved. As reported in the first article, this project will not result in any increase in taxes or carry any future indebtedness. City leaders have always held a long-term planning emphasis and this project is part of this overall long-range infrastructure strategy which is designed to provide the community with excellent city services both now as well as long into the future. Some recent examples of long range planning are the utility infrastructure improvements for our water and wastewater systems including a new water treatment plant and larger community services facilities, both which have been built to accommodate current and future growth.
I also appreciate Dr. Reid’s comments that we do have an excellent police department. He is absolutely right, as this community is truly blessed to have the quality of officers we employ, the dedication they exhibit, the experience and maturity they bring to the table, and the unwavering commitment they make each day to the people they are charged with protecting and serving. I am blessed to oversee this exceptional group of men and women and it is my job to provide them with an adequate, comfortable, and safe facility from which they do their jobs.
It is difficult to answer every unforeseen question in one newspaper article, and that is why I continue to invite any citizen who wishes to discuss this project in greater detail to give me a call or to get together and visit.