New Smyrna police headquarters open for business

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SMYRNA — A police officer’s life is challenging enough these days.

Add seven-and-half unsettled months of moving operations into a new headquarters, plus some construction delays before that.

That’s what the Smyrna Police Department endured from February through mid-September.

On Wednesday, authorities pronounced the transition complete, although boxes remain unpacked and smaller touchup issues exist.

After years of growth in its jurisdiction, the new police station finally matches the demand generated by Smyrna residents and visitors in northernmost Kent County.

Pictured is a men’s holding cell within the Smyrna Police Department’s new headquarters.

Pictured is a men’s holding cell within the Smyrna Police Department’s new headquarters.

A new approximately 29,750-square-foot headquarters at 345 W. Glenwood Ave., costing $4.9 million replaces a cramped station from the 20th century that required creative ways to utilize work space and maintain safety.

The old 4,900-square-foot building was constructed in 1988 when Smyrna had 12 police officers and a population of roughly 3,500.

Now, 23 officers and eight civilians are policing a growing population of approximately 14,000.

On Monday, Police Chief Norman Wood sent a drunk and disorderly suspect to a holding cell to simmer down for the first time in the new station, and the first prisoner was processed on Wednesday.

Accommodations went from three holding cells to seven, a SallyPort no longer makes it possible for an arriving prisoner to flee, and the civilian employees are now in a secured area due to several additional door lock mechanisms.

An 18-screen communication room allows for nearly every inch of the building to be under camera watch, along with the capacity to lock and unlock any door when needed. An on-site Information Technology staffer handles oversight in a room that wasn’t formerly secure.

“I would have to say we are definitely in the 21st century as far as technology goes,” Chief Wood said. “From where we’ve come from to where we are has involved a tremendous transformation.”

Town officials held a construction groundbreaking ceremony on Aug. 5, 2014, when the station was expected to completed in June 2015, The project was financed by a loan from the United States Department of Agriculture, and required adjustments along the way.

The building process didn’t proceed that quickly, and a bullet resistant glass not in the original budget took several months to arrive as a special

Smyrna Police Chief Norman Wood is happy with the new office space.

Smyrna Police Chief Norman Wood is happy with the new office space.

order. Inclement weather also brought delays.

“Change orders weren’t as simple as, ‘This won’t work. It needs to be done this way,’ Drawings had to be changed, the architect had to make approvals. The USDA had to approve changes and the contractor would have to re-bid the portion,” Chief Wood said.

While progress was slow in coming, it did arrive nonetheless.

“Now that the project is finally coming to an end, officers are starting to see the fruits of its labor,” Cpl. Brian Donner said.

“It’s been a long, stressful, difficult time for all of us. We deal with people who often don’t want to be with us or in the police station. It’s important to have a safe facility to work in that environment.”

The Smyrna Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Unit room has plenty of space to operate.

The Smyrna Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Unit room has plenty of space to operate.

Reach staff writer Craig Anderson at canderson@newszap.com

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