The current Great Bend Police Station at 1217 Williams was built in 1938 and originally housed both the Police and Fire departments. At the time, the city’s population stood at about 9,000.
In the intervening 80 years, Great Bend grew. The Police Department’s digs did not.
“It’s really not ideal,” Police Chief Steve Haulmark said Tuesday afternoon. He was guiding visitors through the cramped, maze-like hallways of the building on a tour in advance of the Nov. 2 general election.
The city is seeking a .1% sales tax to pay for a new $5.8 million, 25,000-square-foot Police Station at 12th and Baker. The sales tax is on the ballot.
That is why the Police Department scheduled a series of tours to show the outdated building and the need for a new one, Haulmark said. Subsequent tours are planned for Tuesdays through September, and will run from 4-6 p,m.
If there is enough interest, they will continue the visits through October. In addition, they’re making a video for those who don’t get an opportunity attend, and they are planning a Facebook Live presentation as well.
Those taking part Tuesday got the message.
“If we expect these guys to do their jobs, we need to provide for them,” said Kathy Glaze. Although from Larned, she understood the needs faced by law enforcement officers here.
“The public needs to know this,” she said. “They need to get the word out.”
Other comments overheard included “it’s tiny,” and “you all need a new building.”
Why seek a change?
While giving the tours, Haulmark ran through a list of the current location’s shortcomings.
• There are 40 officers in the 7,500-square-foot building that also houses the city’s Municipal Court. The architects indicated the two-and-a-half to three times the space needed.
• “There are significant structural issues that are costly to repair,” the chief said. Among these are considerable leaking.
• There is not “soft” interview room for children and crime victims. They are taken instead to the uninviting “hard” interview room used for suspects.
• It is not Americans with Disabilities Act compliant.
• There is insufficient storage space for evidence. Much of this is housed in two off-site facilities.
• Parking is inadequate.
• There is no room for meetings or training sessions.
• Officers share crowded offices.
• Restrooms are small and outdated. There are only one men’s room and one women’s room for both floors.
They are not asking for anything elaborate, Haulmark said. “This is just stuff to help the guys do their jobs.”
Basically what they want is more space, he said. Wish list items include an exercise room and men’s and women’s locker rooms.
The proposed new location would also house the Municipal Court.
Plans for a new station were first floated about five or six years ago, but it fell off the radar, Haulmark said. However, it has resurfaced leading to the sales tax request.