Beaverton PD says bond measure would bring safer justice center - KPTV - FOX 12

Beaverton PD says bond measure would bring safer justice center

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Police and city leaders in Beaverton are asking voters to pass a bond measure for a new justice center, saying the current facility was not designed for law enforcement and has many security risks. (KPTV) Police and city leaders in Beaverton are asking voters to pass a bond measure for a new justice center, saying the current facility was not designed for law enforcement and has many security risks. (KPTV)
BEAVERTON, OR (KPTV) -

The Beaverton Police Department says that the public is not safely separated from criminals in the building where the department currently resides, and city officials say that is just one of the many reasons they are asking voters to fund a new public safety building this fall.  

The BPD is currently housed off Southwest Griffith Drive in a building that was designed for office spaces. City leaders told FOX 12 the building was never meant for public safety and it was always meant to be a temporary move for the department.

Some 30 years later, the department is still there, and the city says it's no longer safe for them to stay.

There is a lot that goes on in the lobby of the Beaverton Police Department.

"We register sex offenders here and people come in for court every day, it's a very, very active lobby," Captain Adam Spang said.

Right in the middle of that busy lobby is a makeshift room with no door and no privacy. It is there where police say they interview victims of crimes.

It's the only room they have.

"Often times I'll walk by and there's a victim in there that has tears in her eyes, or his eyes,” Spang said. “We have to have dignity for the victim, we have to have a separate location for that.”

Captain Spang took FOX 12 on a tour of the Beaverton Police Department and pointed out the glaring design flaws that allow criminals to cross paths with people squaring away old parking tickets.

"At times we have six or seven in custody handcuffed here, and they're all in line for arraignments, and often times there are people standing in line to pay off parking tickets and we have to escort them in, right in front of them,” he explained. “There's a lot of safety issues with that and it's one of the things we want to mitigate."

Inmates are housed in the same room where officers write reports and process evidence. When there are minors in custody, Spang said they have to keep them in an old briefing room because they aren't supposed to be around adult offenders.

A stairwell to city offices on higher floors is not at all secure, and Spang tells FOX 12 inmates are brought into custody through the same door as employees.

"We have a fence around the department,” he said. “However if someone were to break free and run out, they could get through both of the main gates on each side."

Fortunately, Spang said nothing serious has ever happened, though recently they had a close call.

"There was an incident in lobby, we had a shot fired into the wall, but I don't remember of any other citizens being in there at the time," he recalled.

Because of all of these issues, the City of Beaverton is asking voters to approve a bond measure this November to fund a new state of the art public safety center on city-owned property.

"It's sad that the City of Beaverton has never had a real police station, and it's over 125-years-old," Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle said.

Doyle said beyond security problems, the current building is also in a flood zone and would crumble during a major earthquake. The proposed 90,000 square foot building would be built to critical safety standards.

"I don't know about you, but I want someone to help me when we have the big one, and it's going to happen," he said.

The city claims the measure would not increase taxes because it replaces the library construction bonds.  Property owners would continue to pay no more than 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or around $50 a year for a property with a value of $250,000. The center will cost some $35 million.

RELATED LINK: See the full bond details 

The city tried to pass a similar bond before with no luck, but the mayor believes showing voters the many issues with the current facility will change their minds.

"I think the voters didn't know the dire straits of building in terms of police functionality at the time," Doyle said.

If the bond is approved, Doyle said the city would still keep the existing building off Griffith but remodel the courtrooms with existing funds to make them safer. Empty offices would likely be rented to nonprofit organizations.

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