Posted February 11, 2002 | comments Leave a comment

A new home

By Craig J. Heimbuch - Daily Staff Writer

Winchester Police Chief Gary Reynolds had more in mind for the Timbrook Safety Center than just a new home for his officers. He said he wanted to the building to serve as a community center as well as a safety service hub.

Reynolds, who along with Winchester Fire Chief Lynn A. Miller had a great amount of input into the design of the building, said the inclusion of a community room that could be utilized by civic groups as a meeting place was one of his best ideas.

“This is probably what I am most proud of,” Reynolds said, while guiding a tour of the three-story facility. “This is a community room that people can reserve free of charge.”

The 100-seat room is on the third floor of the Timbrook Safety Center and, Reynolds said, was designed to serve as tool to break down the barrier between the police and the public.

“I would like nothing better than for a cub scout troop to have their meetings in here,” said Reynolds. “I think that it is very important in order to create a better relationship between the [police] department and the residents of Winchester.”

The community meeting room, however, is not the only feature of the facility that while provide open access to the public. The Timbrook Safety Center was designed, according to Reynolds, with two key points in mind: Easy access for the public and high security for safety officials.

The public aspect of this synergy came to fruition in many aspects of the building, including expanded public parking, easily accessible public records and the ability for anyone to walk into the front door and speak with a dispatcher.

The security of the building is evident, but only to the observant eye. Double doors leading from the public front lobby to the police wing of the first floor provide secure reciprocity. When coupled with thumb-print scanners at all restricted access points, the police and fire offices are virtually impenetrable to outside intruders.

While thumb-print scanners have previously been remanded to high-budget espionage blockbusters and federal agencies, Reynolds said the technology will be cost-saving in the long run.

“We have gone to great lengths to watch how much taxpayer money we spend,” said Reynolds. “[Thumb-print scanners] will actually save us money because it costs less than making and replacing keys.”

Budget was a concern in every aspect of the Timbrook Safety Center, according to Reynolds. In order to keep the project in the black, he said, a number of police and fire facilities were shared, including: Copy machines, break rooms and a workout facility.

The Winchester Police Department, which will occupy approximately 90 percent of the building, will enjoy many necessities it currently does without. The basement of the Timbrook Safety Center features two drive-in garage bays. The first will be used for transporting prisoners to the station, thus minimizing the chance of escape by closing the large garage door. The second bay will be used by officers to search confiscated vehicles. In the closed room, officers can dismantle a vehicle piece-by-piece in the search for evidence.

The basement will also house double-walled ammunition and weapons rooms, where police ordnance can be stored in a safe and secure environment. Just down the corridor is a state-of-the-art evidence storage room.

“Right now,” said Reynolds, “We have our evidence stored behind chicken wire. In the new building we will have secure lockers where evidence can be locked up and stored away.”

The joint fire-police-911 gymnasium will also be housed in the basement of the building. Every police officer will be assigned a locker in one of two rather large locker rooms. While the rooms are obviously much larger than what is currently needed for officers, Reynolds said the size of the room is emblematic of the building’s ability to support increased future need.

Perhaps the most important basement feature of the Timbrook Safety Center is a built-in memorial to the building’s namesake. Sgt. Ricky L. Timbrook was murdered while on duty in August of 1999. Reynolds said the memorial will feature department awards and accommodations, as well as pictures and other memorabilia related to Timbrook.

The first and second floors of the building will provide more than adequate office space for police and fire officials. While Winchester patrol officers currently share two desks from which to work, the new facility will provide a nine-computer work station and private offices for ranking officials. The Criminal Investigations Division, currently shoe-horned into the cubicles of a small room, will enjoy the advent of private offices, a conference room and suspect/victim interview rooms. The narcotics task-force, which is now without a real home, will occupy similar facilities, with a private entrance for undercover officers.

“Right now CID [officers] don’t have any privacy to interview suspects or victims,” said Reynolds.

Neither chiefs’ offices expanded in size, Reynolds said, rather areas designated for their staffs will be bigger in the Timbrook Safety Center. The offices will feature meeting rooms and large, open areas for staff members that will accommodate growth.

The new 32,700 square-foot facility — the current Cameron Street building is 7,000 square feet — represents nearly a 500 percent expansion, Reynolds said, and does not just offer the two departments room to stretch out, but also allows for growth and expansion.

“When we were designing [the Timbrook Safety Center] we had to think about more than just what we needed right now,” said Reynolds. “We had to plan for the next 50 years.”

Reynolds said Rickett’s Construction Company has maintained a rigorous construction schedule and he plans to begin moving into the facility at the end of April, completing the crossover by mid-May.

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