When the Kannapolis Police Department moved its headquarters into a repurposed funeral home in 1989, Chief James Chavis was told it would be temporary.Events throughout the next two decades – massive layoffs after the closing of Cannon Mills/Pillowtex, two severe droughts and one of the worst economic downturns in U.S. history – stunted the town’s vision for building an updated police headquarters and centralized city municipal building. “It’s been one thing after another and it’s just never been favorable financially,” said Chavis, 57, who has been on the force for 30 years and served as chief for five years. But things will finally change for the department’s 81 officers and 24 staff, who serve 44,000 people throughout a 36-square-mile area. Last month, all seven Kannapolis City Council members voted to pursue bonds to finance a new city hall and a state-of-the-art police headquarters. Public input on the estimated $16 million construction project will be sought early next year and the design phase is expected last several months. City officials hope to break ground by next fall.The planned facility will be built on the former Kannapolis Post Office site, a one-block parcel on the south side of downtown with access to Dale Earnhardt Boulevard, Vance Street and Oak Avenue. When complete, about a dozen city departments also will be consolidated in the new building. Currently, several city offices are in rented buildings scattered throughout the city.City council members and other community leaders say the project could be a catalyst for downtown revitalization. Kannapolis City Manager Mike Legg said if anyone takes a tour of the current police headquarters on South Main Street, it quickly becomes obvious a modern police headquarters is needed. “We have an award-winning police department and we’ll put them up against any police department their size in North Carolina, but the space that they’re in now is the only thing that continues to come up as limiting to what they can be and do,” said Legg. The current facility lacks on many levels and doesn’t have a lot of key amenities found at typical police stations, said Chavis. The less-than-ideal setup is counterproductive, hinders internal communication and undermines the professionalism of the department, said Chavis. “A lot of people describe our police department as ‘cute’ and that’s not exactly what you want to portray,” said Chavis.Having a secure facility is vital, said Chavis.“Officers don’t have a secure booking area when admitting prisoners and we can’t leave them unattended for a second,” said Chavis. “When we secure them (in the holding area), we’re just handcuffing them to a bar on the wall. We even had a prisoner who jumped out of second-story window once.”Chavis expects the new facility will help increase officer efficiency and boost morale.“The officers deserve it,” said Chavis. “They do really good work and they deserve a building they can be proud of. They’ve got the equipment, they just need a place to do their job now.”But Chavis and some other officers are reluctant to believe it will be built. “Nothing’s ever guaranteed but this looks better than it has ever looked for us,” said Chavis. “Right now the city needs something to anchor the downtown. I think the police department — and if we can pull off the city hall part, too — will be something that’ll bring more interest into the city…”.
Friday, Nov. 30, 2012
New police building planned
Kannapolis department could get updated facility
Kannapolis City Council on Nov. 5 unanimously approved a preferred funding option to build a new city hall and police headquarters in downtown Kannapolis. The project is estimated to cost upwards of $16million.
Prisoners of the Kannapolis Police Department are handcuffed to poles on the wall and must be watched at all times, as the department's current facility, a former funeral home, is not a secure comples.
The make-shift evidence room of the Kannapolis Police Department is filled to the brim at the department's current facility, a former funeral home.
Historic artifacts from the Kannapolis Police Department are on display in a small, worn cabinet. Lack of storage is just one of the many issues faced by the department.
Electronic cords in Sgt. Travis Furr's office are taped to the floor to help them stay out of way.
Lack of storage within the Kannapolis Police Department's current headquarters -- a converted funeral home -- is just one of the issues faced by the department and its officers. Eight sergeants share four desk spaces within the building.
Former badges of the Kannapolis Police Department are on display in a small, worn cabinet. Lack of storage is just one of the daily issues faced by the department.