The $3.74 million renovation of the Oxford Police Department is just about one month from completion.
After previously occupying only the basement and mezzanine levels of the former Oxford Municipal Building, located at 101 E.High St., the police department will claim the entire building when the re-construction is completed by the end of July, said Oxford Police Lt. Geoff Robinson.
The city administration moved to a new municipal building, at 15 South College Ave., last May. Since then, the police station has undergone full facility renovations. Construction is being done by Empire Building Co.
Robinson, a 13-year veteran of the department, volunteered to be the point person for the project before it started last year.
“I’m very glad to be nearly finished,” he said. “It’s been very hectic trying to balance office space and keep people situated as we go through the different phases of construction.”
Several materials have been delayed, Robinson said, but they are expected to arrive in the coming days or weeks. There is still tilework and landscaping that needs to be done and electrical fixtures that need to be installed.
Also, some equipment for the evidence department was larger than anticipated and didn’t fit its room properly during the initial attempt at installation last week. Robinson said the dimensions of the ceilings and walls will have to be changed slightly to accommodate the equipment.
The renovations have been part of a two-phase process.
The first phase focused on redoing the first and second floors of the building—the area previously occupied by the city administrators—and included underground drain work in the basement.
By adding the first and second floors to its jurisdiction, the police department more than doubled its previous square footage. Before the renovations, it occupied 6,470 square feet. After the construction is finished, it will have 14,310 square feet. “It’s amazing to have more space,” Robinson said. “It’s amazing to have an office. The office that I’ve had for years in the basement was basically a five-by-eight-foot room, that had an old desk that’s probably been recycled five times over. It’s amazing to have a window and be able to see what the weather’s actually doing. It’s nice to see all of our guys be able to spread out and have a place to get their work done, as well.”
The second phase was renovating the basement and mezzanine level of the building.
“They basically worked around us,” Robinson said. “We consolidated a lot of offices, in August last year, in the areas we already occupied. We basically cut our footprint in half with how much floor space we were occupying, so that construction could get in and start working all those mechanical pieces to support the first and second floor.”
To deal with the spatial limitations and challenges, the Oxford Police Department has worked with the Butler County Sherriff’s Department, Oxford Township Police Department and Miami University’s Police Department during the last year.
“We have to rely on them a lot,” Robinson said. “We used their facilities, whether it be interview rooms or booking processing rooms, because we’ve just not had access to those here at our station.”
Phase One was completed in February, allowing the department to move much of their operations into that part of the building.
The first floor will house the patrol officers, dispatchers, parking services and the records division, along with a meeting room that can fit more than two dozen people.
The administration and investigations units will be on the second floor.
The basement will have evidence processing rooms, locker rooms and storage space.
The mezzanine level will serve as the jail compound. It will include interview rooms, the jail facility and a two-bay, drive-in garage, where cruisers can be pulled inside to unload people. This was previously done in the alley behind the station, as the building didn’t have a garage before the renovations.
Robinson thinks the renovations and new space will boost the department morale.
“We’re moving from a dark basement, where we were fighting floods and a boiler system that caught fire a few times during the years,” Robinson said. “It’s an 80-year-old building with 80-year-old technology. Those parts didn’t exist anymore, so they had to piece what they had together. I certainly think the city has well-gotten its money’s worth for the building that was constructed back in 1939.”
Robinson said, despite most of the department’s work being out in the field, the renovated facility will increase efficiency on how police services are delivered to Oxford.