Detroit- Detroit Public Schools today opened a $5.6 million police headquarters and command center, a 23,000-square-foot high-tech facility built from the ground up in six months on a six-acre site near I-75 and Clay Avenue that will serve as an anchor for redevelopment in the city’s North End neighborhood while providing an improved 24-hour security system to enhance public safety on campuses for all students and staff district-wide.
Flanked by city and county, law enforcement representatives and community-based crime prevention agencies, district officials opened the new DPS Police Department Headquarters and Command Center, 8500 Cameron Street, on the site of the shuttered Sherrard and Breitmeyer elementary schools (see photos of the former schools on pg. 4) which were torn down as part of the district’s plan to demolish vacant schools, ridding neighborhoods of blight and creating jobs. DPS sold an additional four acres on the block for $440,000 to the Michigan Humane Society to build its new Detroit Center for Animal Care.
The new DPS Police Department Headquarters and Command Center is part of the district’s $500.5 million capital improvement program voters approved in Nov. 2009 through the Proposal S Bond Referendum.
“This is more than about public safety,” said Robert Bobb, DPS Emergency Financial Manager. “Thanks to the voters, this is about redeveloping and investing in a community. And it’s about keeping our commitment to complete projects, on time, with Detroit-headquartered firms and Detroit workers, and to utilize the bond funds to create 21st Century environments for our students to learn in and, in this case, to ensure that those settings are safe and secure.”
The new police headquarters will serve as the base of security operations for the district and includes a four-station Command Center post where officers will be able to monitor campuses 24 hours a day using live-feed monitoring surveillance systems from digital cameras and alarms installed on school grounds.
Construction began in July on the new DPS police headquarters, which is the start of new development in the North End neighborhood. A new home for the Michigan Humane Society is planned to share the block. The new facility will replace the outdated building on Woodward Avenue that was the site of a former car dealership that could no longer accommodate the technological infrastructure necessary to effectively monitor the schools.
“This is an important day for our students, staff and police officers,” said DPS Police Chief Roderick Grimes. “This command center and headquarters will allow us to bring 21st century policing techniques to Detroit Public Schools. With new high-tech video surveillance and alarms, we will be able to respond more efficiently and effectively, creating safer campuses district-wide.”
The new DPS Police headquarters includes:
- a 70-seat officer roll call room
- 5 juvenile holding rooms
- 1 adult holding room
- 3 K-9 kennels
- 4 interview rooms
- A 50′ sallyport
- fitness area with men’s and women’s locker rooms
- 9 offices
- 2 conference rooms
- a break room, and
- an auxiliary diesel generator that will tap into an uninterruptible power supply.
The DPS Police headquarters and command center are part of larger $41.7 million district-wide security initiative to improve safety and security through advanced technology and infrastructure and a reorganization of the police department.
As part of the safety plan, visitors to DPS schools and buildings will be put through on-the-spot background checks. The badge system will instantly scan a visitor’s driver’s license or state ID card and cross-check the information with sex-offender registries throughout the United States and Canada. School security personnel can also conduct manual checks using a visitor’s name and date of birth if they do not have a picture ID card. The system is currently being rolled out at 33 sites, and will eventually be set up at every DPS school.
The new headquarters will also house a reorganized investigations unit with a team of investigators headed by an Inspector that will bring modern-day policing capabilities to the department, said DPS Inspector General Wilbert Van Marsh, who oversees the district’s security systems.
“The opening of the new command center is a big deal. It’s a big deal for the City of Detroit, DPS, and both current and future generations of students who will attend DPS. The command center is strategically located near major freeways allowing timely responses to address incidents in our buildings. It will be equipped with state-of-the-art technology. The law enforcement staff is experienced and well-trained. This facility demonstrates the high priority Mr. Bobb has placed on ensuring long-term security in our buildings. Many individuals are responsible for the construction of this building. Today I’d like to recognize former Inspector General John Bell and Chief Roderick Grimes for taking the command center from a blue print concept to the actual building you see today,” said Marsh.
Detroit-headquartered O’Brien Edwards Construction Company was the prime contractor for the DPS police headquarters building.
Detroit voters approved Proposal S in November 2009 which enabled the district to access $500.5 million for school capital improvement projects. DPS received the sixth largest allocation in the nation.
The improvement program also includes district-wide technology upgrades and security initiatives being funded with Proposal S dollars. To comply with federal guidelines, all bond dollars must be spent within three years and all projects must be completed by September 2012.