Oswego, Illinois

Balancing Transparency & Security in a New Police Facility

A community builds a new police department with convenient police records storage and evidence storage.
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A New Facility for a Modern Approach

The thirty-year-old police building in Oswego, Illinois, was originally designed to accommodate 50 employees. As the community grew and changed, so did the department’s staff and policing style.

When the time came to design a new facility, the planning team agreed that the building should reflect those changes. They wanted the new police building to serve as a resource for the community and the region, to foster a sense of camaraderie among the staff and the public, and to provide room to grow, particularly in the police records storage and evidence storage areas.

"We’re trying to build a bridge between police staff and the residents."

- Dean Roberts, Principal at McClaren, Wilson & Lawrie

police department presentation room with large screen at the front of the room and tables and chairs

Most of all, the officers and the community wanted the building to be more transparent and open.

“As a village, we wanted a facility that would be inviting and welcoming,” said Chief Jeff Burgner. “We wanted the public and the staff to want to come here.”

This design approach is a departure from the “fortress” concept that was popular in the past, and it arises from a new approach to community policing, said Dean Roberts, one of the architects on the project. “Our more recent projects look very different from a generation ago,” he said. “We’re trying to build a bridge between police staff and the residents of a community. Our job is to help them design a building that gets them where they want to go.”

police station lobby with table and chairs and four large screens on the wall
LEED Silver anticipated
"The large amount of glass around the structure demonstrates our desire to be transparent with our community."

- Jeff Burgner, Police Chief

A Beacon to the Community

Wanting to build a facility that would endure for decades, the village chose a building site near the fire department’s headquarters to create a public safety campus that will be at the center of the community as it grows. The building truly is a beacon to the community, featuring an iconic tower, glass walls, a regional training center, and a community room. Compact storage for records and evidence provide room to grow and free up valuable space for other uses.

Encouraging Teamwork

The staff entrance opens onto a “Staff Hub” that features casual seating, a commons area, and video monitors that display computer-aided dispatch information and updates on local conditions. The main areas for patrol function are all conveniently located off the Hub.

The Hub posed a unique design challenge but also an opportunity to subtly influence the department’s culture, Roberts said. “Officers are trained to be independent, to operate autonomously. But in the building, we’re trying to bring everyone together and form one team. The design of a building can encourage a culture that fosters teamwork.”

police officer in front of large set of four screens mounted on the wall
police records storage on movable shelving system
"The design of a building can encourage a culture that fosters teamwork."

- Dean Roberts, Architect

Secure Police Records Storage and Evidence Storage

Although the public areas of the facility are open and welcoming, the building also needed secure areas for police records storage and evidence storage. The design team wanted to store items compactly in these areas to free up space elsewhere in the facility for workstations, training, and other uses.

That’s why they chose Spacesaver high-density shelving systems, which move on rails to eliminate wasted aisles and optimize storage space.

"We were able to maximize our storage but decrease the footprint."

- Jeff Burgner, Police Chief

evidence stored on mechanical assist mobile shelving system in evidence room

Evidence Storage

The old building had overflowed the physical limits of its storage space. “We had outgrown evidence storage in the old building,” Burgner said. “We needed to build in room to grow.”

High-density Spacesaver systems optimize space in the new evidence room. Evidence is stored in large or small totes, and smaller evidence is stored in envelopes inside drawers that are sized to optimize space. Evidentiary weapons are stored in boxes in an aisle that locks down to provide an additional layer of security.

Police Records Storage

Long-term police records storage had also been a problem in the old building. The new facility features a records room conveniently located adjacent to the administrative area. The room is fitted with a Spacesaver system for efficient space use. Because juvenile records require an additional layer of security, those records are secured on Spacesaver shelving fitted with locking tambour doors.

police administrative records stored on mechanical assist mobile shelving
police compact movable evidence storage system holding totes of evidence
"Durability and quality is so important because a public safety facility is in constant use around the clock, every day of the year. It can have up to five times the use that a normal office building would have."

- Dean Roberts, Architect

"They’ve found a new sense of pride in their work, and the building helps that."

- Dean Roberts, Architect

Welcoming the Community

A multi-purpose community room that can accommodate 40 to 80 people is located near the main lobby. With floor-to-ceiling glass panes that surround three sides, the room serves as a venue for department educational seminars, regional training sessions and community gatherings.

An Award-Winning Facility

The new building is a hit with officers and the community. It has also won design awards, including the Project of the Year award from the American Public Works Association and the American Institute of Architects’ Justice Facilities Review Award.

Even better than the official accolades, Roberts said, was attending the opening ceremony and seeing how pleased the staff and the community were with the new facility. “They had been doing the best they could with a building they had outgrown ten years before,” Roberts said. “It was gratifying to see them have the space they want, in a facility that brings them together. It’s honestly the most rewarding part of my career: helping people who serve their communities.”

officer meeting space with tables and chairs and tvs at the front of the room