The grand opening of the new Belleville Police headquarters was held Saturday morning, 11 months after police moved in.
“This is something that the community has been waiting for, for a long time,” says Belleville Police Chief Mike Callaghan. “And we’re incredibly proud to be in a position to have the grand opening and very fortunate that we’ve been able to do so within the confines, and obeying the legislation, surrounding COVID and physical distancing.”
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Speeches, a tree planting and a plaque ceremony were followed by tours of the upgraded facilities.
The 67,000 square-foot building is on a nine-and-a-half-acre lot, making further expansion possible as the city and police force grows.
Chief Callaghan says the upgrade was long overdue.
“The previous building had 92 structural cracks in the foundation,” says Callaghan. “It had seven different heating and cooling systems that didn’t talk to each other, we were cramped for space that we could not have members from other police services come in to have meetings let alone do joint-forces opportunities in training, as well as operation issues.
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“That’s why having this facility, we’re able to do those. And that’s why you’re seeing the numbers that we have currently with respect to the amazing work done by our drug unit and project renewal.”
The police chief says that consideration was taken towards reducing costs where possible.
“We have on-site training capabilities which will assist us in lowering our budget when we’re looking at training for our members, both sworn and civilian, as we move forward.”
Belleville Mayor Mitch Panciuk attended the opening ceremony, participating in a ribbon-cutting ceremony and giving a speech on stage.
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“As the Mayor of the City of Belleville, I am proud to say that our police service is as important to us today as it has ever been to us over the past 231 years,” said Panciuk, addressing the invite-only crowd.
Callaghan says the project cost a total of $26 million to complete and was nearly two decades in the making.
“When we look at the cost of policing, right across North America, it’s one of the most, it’s one of the highest or one of the most expensive budgets in any community,” Callaghan says. “And while we’re always trying to ensure that we’re being frugal with our money, we need the community to understand that the whole concept of community safety is not necessarily expensive, but it’s priceless. And it’s something that we are very, very fortunate to have here in our community, and something we want to keep.”
The final approval of the concept design for the new headquarters was given in 2018, with officers moving in last fall.
“This is a building about the community,” says Callaghan. “This building has a community boardroom … that is a boardroom to be dedicated to non-profit organizations, which they’ll be able to use in the future. And we want that environment of having a welcoming approach to the community. Because, after all, this building is about the community.”
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