A quarter-million dollars worth of security upgrades to the Oak Ridge Police Department were approved in a 6-1 vote by City Council members this week.
Council approved a $277,000 contract with Richardson Turner Construction Company of Knoxville and agreed to add $20,000 to a professional services agreement with Bankston Architectural Group of Knoxville.
The project will move the Records Office window to the front of the Municipal Building. That window will open into the lobby outside the courtroom and include a wheelchair-accessible window, Oak Ridge Public Works Director Gary Cinder wrote in a memo to City Manager Mark Watson.
“The current configuration of the Police Department does not provide security for the general public and employees in the Police Records office,” Cinder said.
The relocation will allow the city to close the current public entrance into the Police Department, which has been used as the handicapped accessible entrance to the Municipal Building for many years. That public entrance is no longer necessary during normal business hours since a new entrance has been built near the Mayorâ€™s office, Cinder said.
Other changes under the contract approved Monday:
- The current public entrance to the Police Department will remain and be renovated to become the waiting area for people who need to see an officer during nights and weekends. The current phone system used to contact the Police Department’s dispatchers will remain.
- The former garage access to the jail will be converted into a squad room where the officers can have roll call, conduct meetings, and file reports.
- A small conference room will be added in the renovated records area that will let the Police Department hold meetings and interviews within the department’s administrative area.
Council member Anne Garcia Garland cast the only vote against the contract.
She said she like spending money on the police, but she was not convinced that the security upgrades were required, even if they were desirable.
“I’m not persuaded that this a necessary quarter-million-dollar expenditure at this point,” Garcia Garland said.