The Burlington Police Department moved into its new headquarters a few weeks ago. And this week marked the first time the public has had a chance to tour it.
The department held two open houses. It said more than 450 people signed the official guestbook for the open houses and many others simply joined a tour without signing in.
Burlington residents in Nov. 2015 voted in favor of the city borrowing up to $4 million to purchase a former bank at the corner of 2nd and Jefferson Streets and renovate it into a police station. The new facility was needed because the previous police station had structural problems and limited space.
Lt. Wayne Thomson, who was one of the BPD members leading the tours, said he was so glad to see so many people turn out for the open houses.
“You know, we really appreciate what the citizens did in making it so we could have this facility, so we want to share with them what we have now,” said Thomson.
Thomson started his tour in the basement, showing the weight room and the locker room. He said each employee has their own locker, which was not the case before, and that each locker has charging stations for electronic devices and equipment to download body camera footage.
The tour continued on the first and second floors, showing off the individual offices and cubicles for officers and administrators. Thomson said at the former police station people had to share desks or offices when they had to write reports or complete paperwork.
Thomson said there is also a separate room with extra ventilation for cleaning weapons, a private room for voice recording, and a massive amount of space for evidence (though that room was not open to the tour). Previously, evidence was stored wherever there was space.
Thomson said a couple of key additions are a room dedicated to major cases and a large training room with seating for more than 40 people. He said now the BPD can host some of the trainings it previously sent officers and administrators to.
Thomson said Iowa Prison Industries built a lot of the furniture and there are paintings from local students lining the hallways and various office walls.
Sharon Eisenmeyer of Stronghurst, Illinois attended one of the tours led by Thomson. She worked in the building when it was a bank years ago, so during the tour she shared information about what a particular room was used for or what the bank did in a certain area.
Eisenmeyer said she was particularly impressed with how the contractors utilized the two existing bank vaults that could not be removed because of their weight. One is now a break room with space for more than a dozen people and the other is a museum honoring the history of the Burlington Police Department.
“It’s amazing, it really is,” said Eisenmeyer. “The transformation is remarkable.”