St. Louis County Police Capt. Jim Schneider can’t host neighborhood watch meetings at the South County Precinct. He worries about the safety of crime victims who come in and may see suspects in custody. And his police officers don’t all fit in the same building.
But a new, state-of-the-art police precinct is coming to South County, and will be located at 319 Sappington Barracks Road.
County Executive Charlie Dooley, along with county officials and members of the police department, announced the new facility in a press conference Tuesday at the existing South County Precinct.
“All of the cars, all of the radios, all of the officers will bet here at one time and one place, so that’s a good thing as far as efficiency, as far as response time, so we’ll be able to get out into the community quicker,” St. Louis County Police Chief Col. Tim Fitch said.
Parking poses another challenge, as most people in attendance parked on Telegraph Road.
The St. Louis County Council passed a resolution Tuesday that would allocate funds from a bond issuance for a new precinct.
The new precinct wouldn’t cost taxpayers anything, 6th District County Councilman Steve Stenger said.
“The attractiveness of this new spot is that it’s on county property,” he said. “We can then afford to do the bond issue of $1.7 million.”
The St. Louis County Police Fourth Precinct is located at 3031 Telegraph and used to be an insurance building. The county converted it into a station and has been renting it for the last 12 years.
But the 85 officers in the precinct do not all fit in the building. The county also rents two sub stations, one on Lemay Ferry Road and the other further south on Telegraph.
Between the three buildings, the county pays $120,000 a year in rent.
“From the heart, we have one of the finest police forces in the country and to think that they’re serving our public out of three really run-down buildings that are not state-of-the-art, think about how important safety is to the area,” Stenger said.
The bond issuance, plus the saved money in rent payments will pay for the new precinct.
The facility will be approximately 8,000 square feet and cost $1.7 million, said Sheryl Hodges, the director of public works for the county.
Her department is staring preliminary designs now and hope to break ground in the spring of 2013. Construction should be finished by the end of 2013, Hodges said.
Realtor Greg Hayden has been looking for a space to put a new precinct for the last three years.
Hayden said finding a piece of land the county could afford to buy and build on was a challenge.
The has a building and athletic fields on the lot now, but barely use the facility, Hayden said.
They had a 99-year lease with the county, but offered to give it up.
In May 2011, Hayden looked at space in , but the idea met with resistance from veterans looking to use the land as cemetery space.
With the challenge of location resolved, Schneider is looking forward to the new facility.
“It would allow you to keep the function of the police department as an office, and then allow the people that are in custody to not effect the daily business of the precinct,” he said. “So when people come in and they’re the victim of a crime, they can have their children with them and not have them witness someone in custody.”