P2 Talks – Locust Grove (GA) Police Department
(watch the video below)
The officers of the Locust Grove Police Department can be seen quite a bit around this small town of 6,000 people about 40 miles from Atlanta. You’ll see them on foot, on bicycles and in patrol cars. But this high visibility isn’t due to crime rates; rather, it’s an extension of the passion they have for safeguarding their beloved community. In addition to being law enforcement agents, they are residents, too. For them, Locust Grove is home.
For most of us, where we work is often considered our “second home.” The same is true for police officers in general, and that certainly includes the force at the Locust Grove Police Department (LGPD). That’s why there was such excitement when, in March 2017, they finally were able to move into their brand new public safety building next door to City Hall. It houses both the LGPD and Municipal Court.
The Evidence for a Needed New Approach
After moving out of City Hall in 2007, the LGPD called different locations home over the years. Most recently, it was split into a trio of small buildings near City Hall. Evidence storage – such an important part of law enforcement work – was in a duplex next to the department’s substation. Officers would have to store the evidence in one location, take it to another location to be logged in and processed, and then bring it to a third location for storage.
“It really made the day-to-day operational side of things difficult,” recalled Bernadette Burch, an administrative assistant with the department. “It was a challenge, but we dealt with it. And now, wow, what a difference.”
For City Manager Tim Young, the new building is the welcome result of collaborative work amongst city council, architects, engineers, and the team at Patterson Pope.
“Once we got involved with Patterson Pope, we reaped the benefits of their experience with similar types of projects.”
That experience included a knowledge of how important it was to involve the client in some of the decision making. Whether it was up-front areas and decisions about paint color, furniture and textures, or input about how evidence intake areas should ideally flow, that feedback was a critical part of the solution.
Law & Order & Flow
Patterson Pope Sales Representative Gene Reilley welcomed the opportunity to help the LGPD reinvent the way it did evidence intake and storage.
“They’re all such great people there,” he said. “They were very clear from the outset as to what they wanted to achieve, and we were able to give them everything on their list. That’s rewarding – for us as a company, for me personally, and, really, for the people of Locust Grove.”
Chief of Police Jesse Patton shook his head as he remembered the 500 square feet of evidence storage space the department had prior to the new space. Mentally comparing old and new, his preference was clear.
“From the time officers bring evidence in to when it gets logged, to when it gets sent back to court, to when it comes back in for either further storage or destruction, it’s all so smooth,” he said. “It allows a single individual to do everything without it being complicated. Everything now just flows so much more easily.”
The new building’s evidence processing/storage area is only accessible by code-key access. That not only adds an extra layer of protection, but allows the department to track who comes and goes via their unique code.
Items brought in for processing are first deposited into lockable lockers – either standard or refrigerated. The lockers, once loaded, can only be opened from the back side by a dedicated evidence custodian. At the LGPD, that position is manned by a sworn officer, as well. Once logged into the system, the item9s) is/are moved to one of three storage rooms: one of two locked rooms (each outfitted with lockable lockers for extra security) designated for narcotics or weapons, or a larger room for all other evidence. This third room contains a 5-range mechanical assist high-density mobile storage unit, along with bike racks and cantilever shelving. Bicycles… wheelchairs… crossbows… there is nothing that cannot be easily stored. drawers on the high-density shelving are color-coded for added organizational specificity.
A small lab area outside the narcotics/weapons rooms feature flat-surface countertops and backsplashes from. An eyewash station helps protect on-site technicians from potential injuries that might occur due to the handling of certain drugs and/or chemicals.
While Chief Patton is pleased with the way the entire building turned out, certainly, he admitted a special affinity for the evidence storage and the ground floor.
“It’s nice. We can keep admin separate from the public, and yet the public still has access to things. You can have so many functions going on at the same time, and nobody crosses paths to cause any kind of interference. While the officers themselves don’t get to see the ‘behind the scenes’ activities, they do experience how much easier it is for them to get evidence checked in or out, tracked, etc. When you’ve got what you need to work with, it’s a lot easier to keep things clean, keep them stored properly, and keep the flow working.”
“From the time officers bring evidence in to when it gets logged, to when it gets sent back to court, to when it comes back in for either further storage or destruction, it’s all so smooth. It allows a single individual to do everything without it being complicated. Everything now just flows so much more easily.”Jesse PattonChief of Police, Locust Grove Police Department
“The big thing is the versatility of all this stuff. You can upgrade things and make it fit what you need it to do. We’re very happy with it. I think we felt like vagabonds for so many years. To finally have a place to call home – and to have it feel so good and be so functional, really feels like a win.”Tim YoungCity Manager - Locust Grove, GA
“A group of us from the police department and City Hall sat down together and had a tremendous amount of input about what was going into the space. That was something that was really special to take part in. We had long anticipated being in this building and knowing we were going to be working here, it was special to know that we had a say in what things looked like.”Bernadette BurchAdministrative Assistant - Locust Grove Police Department
For Bernadette Burch, having had an opportunity to be involved in some of the important decision-making was an especially rewarding part of the process.
“A group of us from the police department and City Hall sat down together and had a tremendous amount of input about what was going into the space,” she said. “That was something that was really special to take part in. We had long anticipated being in this building and knowing we were going to be working here, it was special to know that we had a say in what things looked like.”
In architectural parlance, form always follows function. As pleasing as the building’s aesthetics are to both its new resident professionals and visitors alike, in the end it’s the quality work it engenders that brings the greatest sense of satisfaction for Chief Patton and the 24 officers who make up the LGPD.
“Every court case is different, of course, but being able to provide the right evidence is crucial to what we do,” said Chief Patton. “I’m especially pleased with our ability to now separate out drugs and weapons. Protecting against cross-contamination is a huge part of what we do. Every case is different, and it’s really big when you talk about cross-contamination. There’s an example of how the layout in the evidence room has really helped.”
The new building’s exterior nicely matches the town’s historic feel. On the inside, though, it is outfitted with modern technology and an up-to-date feel. Helping play a part in solidifying the good work done by LGPD pros was a strong driver for Patterson Pope.
“It always feels nice to do good work for a client,” added Reilley. “Knowing you’re doing it for such a worthy reason does up the ante a bit, sure.”
For City Manager Tim Young, the experience was as smooth as it was welcome.
“The big thing is the versatility of all this stuff. You can upgrade things and make it fit what you need it to do. We’re very happy with it. I think we felt like vagabonds for so many years. To finally have a place to call home – and to have it feel so good and be so functional, really feels like a win.”
Home is where the heart is. And we have the evidence to back that up.