Finishing in record time, the city unveiled the $2 million overhaul of the Oakdale Police Department with a Saturday open house, a community ribbon cutting and then opened the doors to a new address Monday morning, March 14.
The new police station address is 250 North Third Avenue and there is no more public access from the former address.
The station remodel was a long time coming as the aging facility struggled to keep up with the demands of a community that had grown from a one-horse town to a small city with all the benefits and struggles of a growing population.
The top-to-bottom remodel, which included a major green upgrade with the installation of solar panels that cover most of the South Second Avenue parking lot as well as a technologically improved dispatch center, had to happen while keeping the station fully functioning.
Oakdale City Police Chief Jerry Ramar said, “It was challenging, but it wasn’t impossible … we just moved all of our operations over to one half of the building while they did the other. We did run into some challenges and I’m extremely proud of the staff.”
While doing the electrical work, the station lost power, which made it challenging for staff to navigate the loss of some of their critical infrastructure abilities but Ramar was quick to praise his staff for never missing a beat.
“The staff pulled together and overcame those challenges as a team, so it seemed seamless. It was kind of hectic while it was going on but we’re in law enforcement and we have to be adaptable. That’s essentially in our blood — we adapt and overcome and we did it as an organization, and a team. I’m super proud of them.”
Big projects often come with big headaches but aside from some supply chain issues experienced around the world as the pandemic affected delivery routes, the construction continued without a hitch.
“Anytime you do a project of this magnitude you’re going to run into things that are unexpected. We all know that we’re going to run into those issues and it’s just a matter of getting the team together and working through them,” the chief added.
Two of the stand-out upgrades include the real-time dispatch center equipped with state-of-the-art and cutting edge technology geared toward efficiency and dispatcher ergonomics and the sliding evidence lockers that not only triple the holding space but are now the industry standard in safety and security.
Ramar said of the new dispatch center, “I think that’s what we should be most proud of … it’s a state-of-the-art facility that really addresses some of the officer wellness issues. That’s important to us — that everything we do from an organizational standpoint is built around making their work experience as pleasurable as possible.”
It’s been a long time coming but the remodel was sorely needed, not only to accommodate the changing times but also for structural and safety reasons.
According to city project manager, Patrick Mondragon, the aged exterior of the former Police Department/City Hall Complex had several significant concerns such as dry rot and improper sealing resulting in moisture seeping into office spaces, potentially damaging valuable equipment.
Safety and security concerns were also at the forefront of the project. The former parking structure didn’t feature a security gate, which allowed anyone to enter the parking lot and to have open access to police vehicles. In addition, the open parking lot was a potential security breach, giving prisoners an opportunity to escape if they managed to break free before booking.
The primary goals of the remodel were:
· Rehabilitating the exterior of the building;
· Enhanced security;
· Improved functionality and floor plan layout;
· Protect and secure vehicles and equipment.
The new upgrade should extend the life of the police department/city hall by another 15 to 20 years, according to Mondragon.