A new building gives a Colorado police department an opportunity to design their spaces—and their storage—specifically to their needs.
T he town of Parker, Colorado, located approximately 30 minutes southeast of Denver, has much in common with its city neighbor—in particular, the close proximity to the mountains and the active, outdoor-oriented activities that accompany them. It’s part of the reason why Money Magazine listed Parker as one of the “Best Places to Live in the United States” and it’s also why the population has swelled significantly over the past 20 years.
“Because of that, our department has seen a significant amount of growth as well,” says Ron Combs, who serves as a Captain for the Parker Police Department. The Town of Parker incorporated in 1981, and in 1983, the department officially took to the town’s streets on a part-time basis. The police force was headquartered in the former Parker Community Center on Main Street, and moved to a larger facility in the mid-1990s.
That facility—an old bank building—was never meant to be a police department. “We did our best over a 12-year period of time to makeshift the rooms in the building to be as functional as possible, but it wasn’t working,” says David King, Parker’s Chief of Police. With only 15,000 square feet, the department simply had no more room to grow—and they began using costly off-site storage. They knew they needed a more complete solution that would allow them to have all their functions under one roof, and with that, planning for the new facility began in 2008.
The year Parker, Colorado was incorporated. It might be a young town, but it’s already received its fair share of accolades—including being named a “Best Place to Live” by Money Magazine in 2013.
The planning team at Parker PD started looking at other similar facilities to find out what would provide optimal efficiency and organization within their space. The new facility would give the department an additional 30,000 square feet, but they knew from past experience how quickly the space would fill up. “We wanted to make sure our evidence room, detention facility, and the other areas were designed for at least a 20-year build-out,” King says.
At the same time, there was a deep commitment making the new facility environmentally-friendly by using natural materials, natural light, and making it a warm and welcoming space for the community—and for the people working at the department as well.
Combs had the responsibility of being the facilitator for the new space—working with the building’s architect and contractor as well as specific groups of Parker Police Department staff to make sure everyone had a say in what they thought would be best for the new facility. “We really wanted folks to have input,” Combs said. “We knew it needed to be a group effort.”
“Storage is the Achilles Heel when it comes to people’s property and people’s equipment. We knew we needed a long-term, lasting solution.”
~ David King, Parker Police Department’s Chief of Police
Parker Police Department’s storage efficiencies contributed to the facility’s LEED Silver Certification.
One of the areas that needed the most help in the transition to the new facility was the property and evidence handling storage systems. Lt. Chris Peters works with Parker’s Evidence Department to monitor how effectively each piece is stored and catalog. When he first came to the department, the evidence room was poorly organized—and lacked a system for cataloging. In planning for the new facility, he knew he wanted to make a big change in the way Parker was processing evidence—and a new process would require a new way of storage.
In order to maximize available space and increase the efficiency of the evidence technician staff, Anderson Mason Dale, the department’s architecture firm, suggested Spacesaver high-density mobile storage systems for long-term storage. Spacesaver worked with the architect and department staff to create a shelving system within the mobile storage unit specifically configured based on the sizes of the evidence boxes that would be stored on that shelf.
The chain of custody for short-term evidence was improved as well by the implementation of a bank of pass-thru evidence lockers that are built into the wall, allowing evidence to be deposited from one side and retrieved from another. Parker’s evidence lockers also include a refrigerated compartment for biological evidence processing.
“We probably have one of the only property rooms that has extra space because it’s organized so well,” says Peters. “I think we have one of the best evidence facilities not only in the state, but in the country.” The new evidence facility at Parker has led to two CALEA accreditations and an additional one from IAPE, as well as a state accreditation through the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police—all in the past two years.
The evidence room at Parker PD is the only one in the state of Colorado to attain four accreditations—two CALEA accreditations and an additional one from IAPE, as well as a state accreditation through the Colorado Association of Chiefs of Police—all in the past two years.
One of the top priorities for any police department is locker space. “Our officers have a lot of different equipment that they need to keep here—uniforms, gun belts, boots, shoes, and vests,” Combs says. “We wanted to find a locker that would store all of their equipment efficiently, but would still give officers different options.”
Spacesaver worked with the planning team at Parker to install several banks of FreeStyle® Personal Storage Lockers, which provided plenty of hanging space, a drawer at the bottom for boots and shoes, and a compartment for personal items that is able to lock separately. In addition, Parker was able to add power outlets to each of the police lockers so officers could charge cell phones and portable radios.
Spacesaver also helped to create a custom integration between the lockers and the building’s heating and cooling system. Air is constantly running through the lockers so that anything being stored in them can dry out—and it helps the locker room to not smell like a locker room.
Gear bag storage was another need. Officers at Parker carry numerous items in gear bags, which they take out into the field with them each day. To make sure the officers had a safe place to keep those bags, Spacesaver installed a bank of large gear lockers near the parking lot so the bags would be available when needed.
“We probably have one of the only property rooms that has extra space because it’s organized so well. I think we have one of the best evidence facilities not only in the state, but in the country.”
~ Lt. Chris Peters, Parker Police Department
Parker’s records room includes the paperwork of every case that has been processes since the department’s founding. Cheryll Evans, Records Technician for Parker, says that the records aren’t just paper, which makes long-term and temporary evidence storage a challenge.
“It’s the original report taken by the police officers, and plenty of attachments after that—photographs, CDs, disks, any additional files from the investigative detectives following up on a particular case,” she says. “If there’s extra stuff attached to a record, we place those in large three-ring binders.” The binders were cumbersome and didn’t fit the shelving in the old building. Evans goes on to say that destroying evidence for certain cases is difficult, if not impossible. “According to regulations, we have cases that need to be kept for two, three, ten years, indefinitely. It depends on what kind of case it is,” she says.
A mechanical-assist high-density mobile system was installed in the records room to ensure that the records department was always functional. “We opted for this type of storage system because we can’t afford any downtime in case the electricity fails in the building,” Evans says. Within the system, Spacesaver was able to work with Evans and the rest of the records room staff to create custom shelves to accommodate their existing process—especially important in accommodating those binders.
It was also important to Evans to keep the future of the department in mind. “Right now, we’re at two-thirds of the system’s capacity,” she says. “However, it also makes it easier to find and process the records that can be purged. Because of that, I believe this will be able to serve us indefinitely.”
Parker Police Department’s new building has met—and surpassed—all of its goals. Thanks to the layout of the building and the systems within it, off-site storage has been eliminated, and the department was able to bring all the facets of its service under one roof.
The storage efficiencies, especially the HVAC integration with the personal storage lockers, have also contributed to the facility’s LEED Silver Certification. “The design included a lot of natural materials from the local area, and we brought in a lot of natural light,” Combs says. “You’ll see windows all throughout the facility with the goal to ‘bring the outside to the inside.’ That way, our employees can have a comfortable environment.” In turn, that environment will have a positive impact on the Parker community.
Parker’s Chief of Police, David King, sums it up the best. “We’re a department that exists to serve our community, and we’re a problem solving organization,” he says. “We’re always looking for ways to operate better, and these storage solutions certainly bring us into the future with what we need to accomplish.”
“We’re a department that exists to serve our community, and we’re a problem solving organization. We’re always looking for ways to operate better, and these storage solutions certainly bring us into the future with what we need to accomplish.”
~ David King, Parker Police Department