Mounds View Police Department set for upgrades


The Mounds View Police Department’s current holding facilities are two benches with handcuffs. A planned quarter million dollar renovation will convert an existing room into a secure holding cell along with other upgrades to its facilities. (Bridget Kranz photos)

A view of one half of the current women’s locker room, which will be expanded as part of an upcoming renovation to accommodate the growing number of female officers.

Improvements include showers, holding cell and soft interview room

 

The Mounds View Police Department is set to undergo a major renovation later this summer, getting showers in both the men’s and women’s locker rooms as well as a soft interview room and designated holding cell.

The Mounds View City Council approved the estimated $260,000 project in May and awarded a contract to the lowest bidder, Dering Pearson Group, at its June 10 council meeting. Construction is slated to start July 22.  

Showers have been a long-awaited addition to the department facilities, giving officers a place to clean up while on duty.

“For our [officers] not to have access to showers with everything that they encounter in their regular daily duties, I think that’s probably criminal,” said Mayor Carol Mueller at the council’s May 6 work session.

Police Chief Nate Harder noted that not only are officers frequently exposed to bodily fluids while on duty, they are also less likely to use the fitness room during their shifts because of the fact that there’s nowhere to shower afterward.

“We want fit officers, we want them to have longevity in their career,” Harder said in an interview. “It’s hard for me say, ‘Hey, let’s stay in shape. Let’s workout while we’re on duty and build camaraderie,’ when you get all sweaty and then you can’t shower. And you never, ever cool down when you put a bulletproof vest on.”

In addition to adding showers to both locker rooms, the renovation will knock down walls to expand the two spaces. Currently, there aren’t enough lockers for each officer to have their own — Harder’s office doubles as his locker and a storage space. 

“It does affect our ability to recruit. When we get a new officer who’s going through here, they might be in the process with other agencies,” Harder said. “We just lost one to Elk River. We pay the same, we have a great agency, but you walk in there, they have a great fitness facility, locker rooms.”

Harder is always looking for ways to use recycled items to improve the department at a lower cost. For the upcoming renovation, he bought the additional women’s lockers from a scratch and dent sale for $250, as opposed to his estimated retail price of $1,100.

The renovation will also be adding a wall to turn a current storage space into a soft interview room. Currently, officers conduct all of their interviews — with both suspects and victims — in the same room, a space described as “Spartan” by Harder. 

He said he hopes that the addition of a soft interview room will provide a more comfortable and calming space for witnesses and victims, including children. 

“A recommendation in sexual assault protocols is having soft interview rooms, where you have a couch, something where once again they’re not re-victimized or they feel like a suspect when they’re being interviewed,” he explained at the May work session.

City Administrator Nyle Zikmund, who Harder said has been a big supporter of the department’s renovation and who is also a former fire chief, said at the meeting that the more comfortable space is “critical to continue our effective law enforcement.”

The project will also convert an existing room into a designated holding cell. Currently, the station has a bench next to its Intoxilyzer breath alcohol tester to which folks are handcuffed to await transport to the Ramsey County Jail.

Because juveniles have to be held somewhere that is visually and audibly separated from adults, a new, closed-off room will help officers question and hold people more efficiently.

Of the upcoming renovation, said Harder, “They’re not huge improvements — they’re small ones that are going to be a big deal.”

 

–Bridget Kranz can be reached at bkranz@lillienews.com or 651-748-7825.

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