Rather than focus on a west-side police station to keep up with the fastest-growing part of town, Murfreesboro Police Department is emphasizing renovation of a former medical clinic as a new headquarters.
The city recently sought bids for work on transforming the old Murfreesboro Medical Clinic on North Highland Avenue into a police headquarters to house all of the department’s units, except its vice squad. The property cost $4 million and renovation is estimated at $22 million, according to the city’s proposed fiscal 2015 budget plan.
“The department has outgrown the current spaces,” police spokesman Kyle Evans said. “The new facilities will allow the MPD to grow and offer more police services to the officers and community we serve.”
The department is spread throughout several buildings and needs more space for records/evidence, communication, the Criminal Investigations Division and patrol, according to Evans.
“The new facility will help bring our professional and accredited police department into the next generation of policing,” he said.
The department remains interested in opening new west-side substation but none is in the works, according to Evans.
City Councilman Ron Washington was an early proponent of a west Murfreesboro police station to deal with growth there, but he said he quickly found out the police department was outgrowing its headquarters building on South Church Street. The city considered building a headquarters from scratch until the old medical clinic became available.
“We went from a project that was going to cost $50 million to a project that’s going to cost $20 million,” Washington said.
Since the idea for a west-side police station was put on hold, Washington said he encouraged the police department to hire more officers and station them in that area.
Three officers are to be hired in the fiscal 2015 city budget plan to target neighborhood criminal activity.
Washington and Councilman Toby Gilley agreed that putting the police headquarters into the former medical clinic facility will energize a part of the city that lost some of its luster when the clinic and former Middle Tennessee Medical Center moved into new buildings in the city’s Gateway area.
The city is avoiding the cost of constructing a building “from the ground up,” Gilley said, and revitalizing a former “hub of activity now sitting empty.”
MTSU purchased the old hospital property but hasn’t started work on any building there.
Eventually, the city will build a west-side police station, Gilley said, but noted, “Right now, the priority is getting the new headquarters up and running.”
As part of the city’s proposed $93.8 million in capital expenditures this coming fiscal year, the police department is to purchase four night rifle scopes with night vision for $38,400.
In addition to the $22.4 million for headquarters renovation, $11.6 million is budgeted for police communications, towers and other information technology software and equipment replacements. Vehicle replacements for the police department are set to cost $2.5 million in the next fiscal year.
A police and fire training facility on the former Coleman Farm in the Walter Hill area is budgeted at $2.5 million. These items are to be paid for through the Tennessee Municipal Bond Fund.
Considering the amount of time and expense the city puts into training police officers and fire and rescue personnel to be ready “at a moment’s notice,” Gilley said he considers the facility a “necessity” as opposed to a luxury.
In fact, Gilley said he’s had some city emergency workers tell him they’d rather have the city spend money on the training facility than on pay raises.