SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — The City of Salem has been talking about the need for a new police facility for decades, and thanks to voters, it’s finally happening.
On Tuesday night, voters easily approved a measure that would provide Salem Police Dept. with a $61.8 million bond to pay for a new centralized policing facility.
KOIN 6 News toured the police department’s current facility a day after the election, and saw exactly why the people who work there are ready for an upgrade.
“A file cabinet and a shelf, that’s for 16 sergeants, 18 sergeants,” Police Chief Jerry Moore said. “Over the years we had to make changes just to survive, basically.”
Salem PD currently occupies the first floor of the Salem Civic Center. They’ve been there since 1972, when the population of Salem was about 72,500 people and there were 108 officers on staff.
Since then, the police department’s staff has doubled to 190 officers and 55 civilians. They did their best to build more office spaces, some literally inside of old closets, but the narrow hallways still barely fit 2 people at a time, and a large number of cadets are forced to share a desk.
Moore described shelves in the evidence room as “packed to the grills,” and said if officers go back there looking for something, they’ll have to pull everything out.
When a call comes in, SWAT officers cram into a single space to grab their gear and change. Moore said many of them carry their bags out and get dressed in the alley.
Luckily, all of the inconveniences the department currently faces will soon be things of the past. The $61.8 million bond will fund the construction of Salem PD’s new facility off Liberty Street where an old car dealership currently sits.
The department’s crime lab, which currently operates out of a wastewater treatment plant 7 miles away from headquarters, will also relocate thanks to the bond.
Mayor Chuck Bennett thanked voters for passing the bond, but nobody is happier than the officers who will soon experience the convenience of a modern facility.