As the role of the police officer evolves, so do the blueprints of today’s modern police stations.
21st Century Policing
In response to modern police needs, those who design and build today’s police stations have taken a new approach in design and planning.
Room to train and store specialized equipment, welcoming community space that does not compromise safety, and an environment supportive of the mental well-being of officers dealing with recurring large-scale incidents are now among the top priorities of police station design.
“The typical police department may deal with gun violence, attacks on police officers, or even terrorist threats,” says Kyle Yardley, Justice+Civic Leader and Senior Architect of DLR, a national architect who specializes in designing modern municipal and enforcement facilities.
“To combat these new threats, police departments have turned to new technologies, including those with crime prevention capabilities,” he explained.
This changing landscape has significant impacts on both the policing role and the police station itself. Collaboration has become key, both between law enforcement agencies and with the general public. A public expectation for complete transparency and accountability has placed new demands on the modern-day police facility. These challenges are again stretched by a goal of greater community engagement and a growing concern for the safety and security of officers.
Designing Modern Police Stations
When designing any new facility, it’s important to consider the specific processes that occur, so efficiencies can be incorporated into the design. A new police station should create ease in an officer’s daily work, rather than impose additional challenges.
“The challenge with design is to accommodate privacy and anonymity of individuals while creating a sense of openness in community spaces,” explains Yardley. One of the primary goals of new facilities is building trust while protecting employees. In the past, fortress-style police stations were often adopted. New police stations, however, strive to appear integrated in their settings without sacrificing security.
“New police stations often feature more open public spaces,” says Dennis Disney, Project Executive with Adolfson & Peterson Construction (AP). “Contractors must create public zones where officers can take reports, register individuals, question witnesses, and provide assistance to victims of crimes.” AP’s Denver office recently completed the Englewood Police Station Headquarters, designed by DLR. The company was also awarded a National Excellence in Construction Award from Associated Builders and Contractors for their City of Aurora Public Safety Training Center.
Conducting up-to-date training through drills, simulation, and classroom learning requires effective training facilities. Some of these spaces incorporate advanced technologies, including virtual reality and simulation, some accommodate specialized military gear to help police respond to advanced threats, and some are suited to classroom learning and soft skills to help officers de-escalate and assist civilians. According to Yardley, the best training facilities are flexible enough to adapt to specific training needs, while providing adequate storage for specialized equipment that supports training drills.
Private spaces for officers accommodate typical shift duties, ranging from paperwork to advanced technology for crime detection and prevention.
In addition, police facilities must go beyond protecting physical threats. With a notable increase in the number of officers who experience mental health crises, often due to the stress of their profession, it’s critical that the modern-day police station fosters officers’ mental wellbeing in addition to protecting their physical health. Design elements that positively affect mood include natural lighting, soothing colors, and open or airy layouts.
When properly designed, modern day police stations accommodate the police officers’ daily duties and the need to interact with the public in ways that reduce stress, promote wellness and preserve safety.
Englewood’s New Police Headquarters Delivers Much Needed Updates
Not only had the police outgrown the facility, it did not meet the needs of a modern up-to-date police department. The new City of Englewood Police Headquarters provides modern and secure facility needs, and is more than double the size of their former facility space. It includes a multi-purpose training room that can also function as an emergency operations center; a modern infrastructure to support data, voice and other communications applications; and security systems that improve safety for visitors, police staff and arrested individuals.