If you're driving near Southwest Hall Boulevard and Allen Boulevard in Beaverton, then you've probably seen people putting the finishing touches on the new Public Safety Center.
Originally, the building was supposed to open in May, but police and emergency management had to move in slowly as the coronavirus pandemic continued.
A spokesperson for the Beaverton Police Department says it is exciting to finally be working out of the new building.
"Personally, it made me realize how beautiful the current building is, but also the job that we were doing out of the (previous) building just wasn't up to par or up to standard for a police department," said Officer Matthew Henderson. "This is the first time the city of Beaverton has had an actual designed building police department. We were operating out of an office (before), so it felt good."
Despite the building being ready to go, Henderson says non-sworn staff members are still working from home.
The virus had little impact on the construction of the building.
"We (did) run into some slowdowns as manufacturing of various items were delayed due to COVID-19 shutdowns (or) slowdowns," explained Beaverton Police Capt. Eric Oathes. "Examples are furniture, some lighting, and various electrical panels needed for the building took longer as supply chain interruption occurred."
He added, "We also implemented the 6-foot social distancing requirements which made several construction trades more difficult when it came to heavy projects or two person projects. We did not have any COVID-19 site transmission issues."
As for the plaza area in front of the center, Oathes said finishing touches include public art, which will be placed in the area.
For 40 years, the police department was located at 4755 S.W. Griffith Drive, which was also Beaverton City Hall until most city offices moved into the renovated Beaverton Building at The Round on Southwest Millikan Way in 2014. Police continued to share the previous building with the municipal court, which will remain at Griffith Drive.
In 2016, voters approved a $35 million bond for the center, which sits on the former site of the Beaverton Activities Center — and before then, the city library and a supermarket. They rejected a similar bond in 2014 for renovation of the Griffith Drive building. That defeat turned out to be fortuitous, given that the building was designated later to be in a floodplain.
The new Public Safety Center is built to withstand a severe earthquake triggered by a fault off the Oregon coast. It has a more inclusive name because it also will house emergency management and the city's operations center, not just police.
If a major disaster were to happen, police would then be able to help others during a time of need, said Henderson.
"Not only do we have to worry about ourselves during this big earthquake, (but) we also have to worry about our community," he explained. "We're still going to be required to do our job probably more than regular times if that happens. If we don't have a police department that can operate, then that's going to make our jobs that much more difficult."
The new location, which has easy access to Highway 217, also makes it simple for officers to respond to various calls around the city.
"We don't want to be all the way down in south Beaverton and having to respond across the city up north," explained Henderson. "Also, we wanted to be visible. … A large part of law enforcement is presence, because just being there can deter a wide variety of crimes and help people feel safe."
What about a grand opening celebration?
Police say not so fast.
"I know that that's a desire for the city leaders, but I don't think anything has been set yet because of COVID-19," Henderson said. "I think we're all just kind of waiting for 2020 to end. My hope is that we would have something like that in the future."
Regardless of no party, Henderson says officers are happy to have a complete space to work out of.
The center has three sally ports to allow officers to pull in their patrol cars and put criminal suspects in holding cells without having to take them from a parking lot. Inside, you can find small rooms that allow officers to interview witnesses in private.
Supervisors also will have their offices nearby. Another area is set aside for officers to write reports.
Another ground-floor room will allow officers to store evidence — contraband seized from suspects, items from a crime scene, or property that is unclaimed — without having to go to an offsite location.
The new space also means not having to talk to victims about traumatic events in the police lobby, said Henderson, which is something he remembers doing in the old building.
He hopes the Public Safety Center can be a comfortable space for everyone to use.
"It's the community's police department," said Henderson. "It's not just for the police."
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