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Police move to city hall considered
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Lisa Hobbs

Alderman Junior Medley’s written plan to relocate McMinnville Police Department into city hall was presented to the board Tuesday night, as was McMinnville Police Chief Charlie Sewell’s letter of concern.
“If anyone else has a different plan, I would be more than willing to listen,” said Medley. “This is a suggestion. I think we should consider it, but I’m willing to listen to other ideas.”
After visually inspecting and measuring city hall, Medley found 8,000 square feet of available space. Unused areas are in the basement, second floor and third floor.
The plan:
• Parking — Shift change is approximately 6:30 to 7 a.m., and again from 6:30 to 7 p.m. During these hours, there are no businesses open and parking should not be a problem.
Medley is withdrawing his idea to pave The Lot across the street from city hall for extra parking.
“If for some reason this idea is submitted and approved, an estimated cost to pave this lot is $23,000,” he said.
Instead, he wants to designate nine parking spaces between the courthouse and city hall for the chief, assistant chief, captain of patrol, captain of investigation, sergeant of investigation and five detectives.
“All other patrolmen on duty can utilize any other available space in close proximity to city hall, as they should not be inside city hall for a lengthy amount of time,” said Medley.
Any officer attending training or not subject to responding to calls can park in the city parking lot.
• Building — Relocate McMinnville Planning and Zoning Department from the second floor to the third. Of the 576 square feet on the third floor, only 140 square feet is being used.
Public Works director Bill Brock currently has an office on the third floor. His staff is located on Belmont Drive where he also has an office. He could be moved back to Belmont Drive.
“If there is a justified need for him to have his office at city hall, there should be no reason that we cannot accommodate him,” said Medley.
MPD can use the training room located on the third floor, with bathrooms and a kitchen located there. Basement bathrooms and locker rooms necessary for shift changes can be renovated from what already exists to meet the needs of the department. The elevator can be used to cart equipment.
Security for the basement area can be managed by security key access to the basement, controlled key entry to a room that contains the larger items of evidence and/ or armory items, or controlled key entry to police department records.
There are two vaults that are accessible to the department — one on the second floor and one in the basement.
“This should be sufficient to hold evidence prior to charges and/ or trial and disposition of the criminal case,” said Medley.
The board room on the second floor can be used to hold court, which is already equipped with microphones and a public address system. The alderman’s room beside the board room can be utilized by the city judge.
An interview room for detectives to interview suspects will be located in the basement. If the interview leads to an arrest, the individual can be taken up the stairs or elevator to a waiting patrol car.
From prior discussions between Medley and Sewell, the chief generated a written statement that outlines his concerns with this idea.
“The men and women of McMinnville Police Department are committed to being a team player with city government,” said Sewell. “Keeping with our mission statement, we also have a strong desire to provide the highest level of service possible to the people we serve. Moving the police department into city hall would greatly hamper both of those commitments.”
Sewell says he measured city hall and only found 6,000 square feet of available space. His department needs at least 8,500 square feet, he says.
His concerns:
• Parking — There is inadequate parking not only for police department civilian personnel, but also city owned vehicles.
“We would need a sizable portion of the city parking lot behind Hargroves to accommodate the police department,” he said.
While the department tries to keep officers on the street at all times during their shifts, there are times when officers need to be inside the department for paperwork, supplies, training, or dealing with subjects.
“The city parking lot would be a sizable distance to travel before an officer could get to a police vehicle and respond to a call,” he said. “The shift supervisor carries a shift bag that contains an AED, camera, intoxilizer and other supplies making the bag weight around 45 pounds.”
• Building — Officials looked at moving the police department into city hall when the building was purchased. At that time, it was determined the building did not have adequate space, says Sewell.
“The space available on both floors for the police department to occupy in city hall is around 5,000 square feet not counting the boardroom,” said Sewell. “The space that is available is not adjustable space that we can mold to our needs. In addition, approximately 25 percent of the basement has been taken up with city hall records.”
When it comes to using the boardroom for court, there is no office for the judge. Also, the room would have to be used for Citizen Police Academy classes, in-service training, Citizen Police Academy alumni meetings, and other police department functions.
Bathroom plumbing in the basement would have to be addressed. The men’s and women’s bathrooms in the basement are both single seats. The men’s bathroom needs a minimum of two seats plus a urinal.
There is no space in either bathroom for lockers. Many officers change clothes before they leave work or at least store their weapons and leather gear. They also use lockers for storing paperwork, and law enforcement supplies.
Sewell says he is also concerned with security, as informants, sex offenders and suspects visit the department. If visiting the department at city hall, they would have access to other unsecured parts of the building.
Officials made no decision on the relocation of McMinnville Police Department. No alternate locations were suggested. For a copy of Medley’s plan or Sewell’s letter, contact city hall at 473-1200.