Why build a new Shreveport police station when you can renovate: OPINION

Shreveport's police department currently has many problems with its current facilities, and te bond issue looks to remedy that.

Columnist John Settle asks the question: Why build a new police station versus renovate?

It’s a question asked about the allocation of $20 million for a new central police station in the proposed bond package.  And it’s a good question.

Here is Chief Ben Raymond’s response:

"Certainly. To begin with, in August 2016 SPAR conducted an inspection of our current facility and estimated that costs would be in the $5,000,000 range to address some of the major infrastructure issues (plumbing, electrical, HVAC). What cannot be estimated is what additional costs would be if problems were found during the replacement of these vital systems.

Secondly, our plan is to build on the current site; we will construct the four Patrol sub-stations first so we can move those personnel to their new locations before we demolish a portion of the current police building (where Patrol was housed). Then, once we move into the new building, we will demolish the remainder of the old structure and build adequate parking. We agree that our current location is ideal and plan on staying here."

At the bond meeting at Southern Hills Thursday evening, Chief Raymond expounded on this answer.

It’s well documented that the heat in some of the offices reaches 90 degrees.  There are problems with black mold. There are significant issues with bathrooms. The building was constructed as a city hall, not a police station.

A new station would also facilitate upgrades in computer technology.

Raymond also explained the many advantages of staying at that location.

These included proximity to the Shreveport city court building, the  SPORTRAN intermodal facility, the city jail, the Caddo 911 center,  and the central records/storage facility–all within walking distance.

The location is also close to the Caddo courthouse and the federal building. Additionally, the police vehicle maintenance facility is behind the station.

Also, it has excellent access to I-49, I-20, and inner city neighborhoods.

Raymond did not say this, but a comparison of the makeshift SPD headquarters building with the central fire station headquarters on Common Street is in order. Obviously, the police headquarters buildings should be as functional as the fire department, which is not by a long shot.