Kent police waiting to fully move into new headquarters

KENT, Ohio - After more than a decade of planning and expectation, Kent police are anxious for all of their officers, detectives, administrators and dispatchers to move into the city's new $12 million police station.

Administration and detectives moved into the new three-story building earlier this year.

Patrol officers, dispatchers and the city jail are still working out of the department's old headquarters, which was built for the fire department in 1924, just two years after Kent became a city.

FOX 8 News was given a tour of the new headquarters on Thursday.

It includes a large, first-floor training room that can be used by the general public. For the first time, officers will have a new workout room. Patrol supervisors will not have to share desks and the department will have enough space in its evidence room that it will not have to use off-site storage.

"Most of the time, the air conditioning and the heat didn't work in the old locker room," Detective Lt. Bob Treharn said.

Patrol cars will be able to be parked under shelter and the building will have enough room to allow for future growth.

"We toured other departments as part of the planning. When we were drawing up the plans for this one, to see what they like and didn't like. Some of the complaints we heard from the others were once they moved in, they are out of space already so when we built this we wanted to make sure we had room for expansion," Treharn said.

What is keeping everyone from moving into the gleaming, new facility is the coordination of contractors to finish the communication center. The center includes dispatchers, the 911 phone lines and recording equipment, non-emergency lines, and radio equipment

"That's a lot of coordination, probably eight entities that have to coordinate their schedules and one thing has to go before another thing has to go before another thing," Kent Police Chief Michelle Lee.

"They are looking for a week or several days where these entities have all free and can come and actually move, physically move dispatch equipment as well as move the technical side of it, the software and other things," Lee said.

During that process, the expectation is to have dispatchers at alternate sites including the Kent State University police dispatch center and the Kent Fire Department so they do not miss calls.
Lee said although the process seems to have taken a long time from planning to moving in, the priority has been to get it done right rather than to get it done quickly

"It's not the best solution. We are operating out of two buildings, and we are taking those calls and communications and we are dispatching those calls and, yeah, so we are maintaining right now, but we want to do it right the first time," Lee said.

"In my mind, I would have liked to have this happen in February or March but that's OK. We still have that goal of it happening sometime in June at latest, maybe July, but I'm hopeful by this summer sometime," she said.

Lee said she is anxious for taxpayers to see what they are paying for so the city still plans to hold open houses and tours once the building is officially opened.

"I think that the officers are really looking to come over here. I know that we all want to be in the same building and under the same roof so yeah, I know they are excited," said Lee.