New APD station awaits officers

Published 9:52 am Thursday, June 25, 2009

AHOSKIE – For Troy Fitzhugh, it’s like opening a Christmas present…in this case in late June rather than late December.

Fitzhugh, Chief of the Ahoskie Police Department, invited the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Tuesday for a sneak peek inside the West Main Street building that will soon be the new home of the APD.

As work crews remain busy inside – placing the finishing touches on items such as furniture assembly, countertops and a maze of wires required for the department’s dispatch center – Fitzhugh roamed the halls of the new 8,200 square foot building where he oversaw the completion of these last minute details.

“We’re anxious to get these things taken care of so we can complete the process of moving in,” Chief Fitzhugh said. “If everything goes according to plan, we anticipate being up and running in this building by sometimes next week.”

And, by law enforcement standards, what a building it is!

“We’ve devised this office to handle our present and future needs,” Fitzhugh noted. “Plus we have law enforcement tools within this building that we do not have at our current location, not that town officials wouldn’t let us have those things, but rather we didn’t have the space at our current building to allow for those things.”

Upon entering the front door, those visiting the new APD station stand within a waiting area in front of the dispatch room. There, speaking through a glass, a visitor can state the reason they are there and whom they need to see. No one can access the interior rooms without being accompanied by a police officer or APD staff member.

To the left of the reception area is the administrative side of the office. There, the Chief, Major, Lieutenant and Detectives have individual offices. Another room, complete with six individual work stations (with room to expand to 12), is for the APD Patrol Officers. There’s even a room for use by the State Bureau of Investigation.

An evidence and property storage room, secured by high-tech entry devices, is also located on this side of the building, as are men’s and women’s staff bathrooms, complete with showers and individual lockers.

Down the back hall are a crime equipment room and a staff break room. Entry to the dispatch room is also made down this hallway. There is ample space within the dispatch room to house the “heart” of the office, the E-911 and CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch) systems and video screens from where all activity within and outside the building can be monitored. Space also allows for up to two dispatchers to work at the same time if needed in emergency situations.

A bit further down the back hall, secured within its own area, are the suspect interview room, the booking room, breath-testing (DWI breathalyzer) room and areas for fingerprinting and photographing arrestees. This area also includes office space for the Magistrate, separated by a “speak-thru” glass and tray for passing documents to and from the booking room. There is also a bathroom for detainees.

“The detainees are in an area from where they cannot freely access any other part of the office interior,” Fitzhugh said.

Chief Fitzhugh also noted the suspect interview room, adjoined by an observation room. He said as of March 2008, a new law required all interviews conducted in homicide cases to be audio and/or video taped.

Another new feature of the APD station is a “sally port” – a small controlled space from where an APD officer can drive a vehicle inside the building, through a roll-up door, from where a more violent offender can be securely unloaded for processing or loaded for transport to another law enforcement facility.

The new building also contains a spacious meeting/training room as well as office space for the Police Captain, Records Clerk, Accident Report room and a file room.

“I feel we have an office that not only we, as police officers, can be proud of, but the citizens of Ahoskie can be proud of as well,” Fitzhugh closed. “Many thanks are in order for our Mayor and members of our Town Council for realizing our needs as police officers as they shared in our vision for a new police station.”

A formal dedication of the new police station is scheduled for July 21.

John Bassett, Inc. of Edenton was the general contractor, completing the new facility in only nine months.