LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib has been working to convince residents that the department needs a $30 million new headquarters building because the current facilities are out-of-date and could jeopardize public safety.
Area voters in November likely will be asked to approve a tax increase to fund the new police headquarters, which would bring the entire department and all its equipment under one roof. Mayor Mike Amyx said he expects to receive an updated report in July on building costs, size and site issues. After that commissioners will have to decide whether to put a tax increase question on the November ballot.
Khatib said among the problems with the current facilities are that the city’s armored vehicle has to be stored a few miles away from officers in a garage without a security system. Khatib says because of that arrangement it would take 40 minutes for the vehicle to respond to an emergency, like a school shooting or a hostage crisis, when it should take 10 minutes or less. Part of the lengthy response time is due to travel time for officers, and part of it is because it would take time to pack the armored vehicle with the necessary weapons and equipment.
Khatib said he can’t allow tactical weapons to be stored in a vehicle in an unmonitored garage. The department would also likely face criticism if the public finds out an armored vehicle could have made a difference in an emergency, if it hadn’t taken 40 minutes to get out of its garage.
“People are not going to understand why that happened,” Khatib said. “It won’t be acceptable.”
Khatib said the facilities problems go beyond the garage issue for the armored vehicle, and include leaking roofs, worn-out flooring and storage problems. He also said police department personnel drive about 1,100 miles per month between the department’s two offices and other off-site storage locations.