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Back to Archives | Back to July 2005 Contents 

A Case Study: Using the IACP Police Facility
Planning Guidelines

By John Kruithoff, Chief of Police, Holland, Michigan, and Frederic D. Moyer, FAIA, Moyer Associates Inc., Northbrook, Illinois

ike many police agencies in the United States, the Holland, Michigan, Police Department found itself occupying a facility that it had long ago outgrown. Demands for service had increased and the personnel roster had grown.

In 2000 the Holland police facility was only 28 years old but its deficiencies affected every area of operations: it lacked interview space for victims, witnesses, and arrestees; it lacked roll call, report writing, and other support spaces; it lacked lockers for sworn and civilian personnel; it had insufficient and scattered evidence storage space; and it had crowded working conditions for staff.

The building also wasn't designed for secure prisoner control, a real problem for the Holland Police Department, which is responsible for receiving and holding prisoners and taking them to court next door.

Addressing the Problem
Acquiring the needed facilities for the Holland Police Department became a top priority. After receiving approval from the Holland City Council to start the process of researching project costs for a new police facility, police leaders soon realized that the building of a police facility was not a typical project that many architects had the knowledge and experience to accomplish, and this is where the IACP Police Facility Planning Guidelines, published in 2002, came in.

Another valuable resource was the annual IACP conference. While attending a workshop presentation where police facility planning was discussed, the Holland police leadership became familiar with the IACP guidelines and held discussions with the knowledgeable experts. Over the next few years the department's planning activities were structured to follow the facility-planning model presented in the guidelines publication. Not until much later in the project was it realized how beneficial the attendance at the workshop and utilization of the guidelines would be in the process. The results were a successfully completed police facility for the Holland Police Department dedicated in September 2004.

Project Phases
The 18-step facility-planning model, as presented in the guidelines, is divided into four project phases, each having various steps:

  • Phase 1: Project Initiation

  • Phase 2: Project Planning and Pre-design

  • Phase 3: Budgeting and Funding

  • Phase 4: Design and Delivery

The guidelines are not intended to be prescriptive or necessarily applied in the same manner in every jurisdiction. Rather, the guidelines were developed with input from an advisory board of experienced police professionals and the guidelines seek to offer a logical sequence of project phases and steps with issues and activities that may be found important for consideration.

The Holland experience with this planning model found the description of project phases to have a solid underpinning in logic. Holland's police leadership also found that some steps were particularly crucial to defining the project, gaining support for the project, establishing facility needs, planning and designing the needed facility, and moving the project along to a successful occupancy. This case study will touch upon some of more important steps in the particular context of Holland, Michigan.

Applying the Guidelines
The project initiation phase included seven important steps. Step 2, "Build a Police Internal Planning Team," explained the importance of putting together an internal planning group. In Holland, a team was assembled from various staff members in the department including members from records, patrol, investigations, lockup, and maintenance. The captain in charge of administrative services was designated as the project manager. This group ended up staying together throughout the entire project, adding or replacing members as needed.

The team initially focused much of their time on guideline steps 3-7, where they identified and articulated the current facility problems and concerns. These facts were then used to build political and community support for a new facility. The team also established the department's policing philosophy, which would be used in future presentations. This was important to establish because there were some suggestions to build a new facility on the outskirts of the community instead of downtown. The department's goal was to remain in the downtown business district and near the community policing districts. After presenting the department's policing philosophy to the city council members and various community groups, the police won support for their plan to remain downtown. This led to the beginning of phase 2.

The facility planning model does not prescribe that each of its 18 steps necessarily take place in exactly the same order or with the same concentration in every jurisdiction. In the case of Holland, the selection of the architect and law enforcement facility planning and design consultant was undertaken far earlier than step 15, as shown in the planning model diagram. Instead, it occurred right before step 8, at the very beginning of phase 2, project planning and pre-design. Even though detailed design work was not to occur until much later, it allowed for continuity of the entire planning and design team through all major project stages. The selected architect was GMB Architects and Engineers of Holland, Michigan. The selected law enforcement facility planning and design consultant was Moyer Associates Inc. of Northbrook, Illinois. Moyer Associates worked as a sub consultant to the architect.

As a result, step 8, "Conduct Space Needs Analysis," was undertaken with collaboration between the police department's in-house pre-design team and the planning and design professionals who were brought on board. The importance of this continuity for later decision-making cannot be overstated. While this part of the process was extremely time-consuming, it had a twofold benefit. First, it introduced the team to great ideas from other jurisdictions, many of which were used, and, second, it allowed staff members to participate and gave them a feeling of ownership in the process.

Determining the Space Needs
The space needs analysis included the distribution of a survey questionnaire to police personnel in every operational area of the department. It elicited their identification of the problems they faced in the existing facility, trends in demands for service, needed adjacencies to other operating units, security needs, needed technology applications, perceptions of increasing or decreasing staffing needs in the future, and facility support needs. It was followed up by individual interviews with everyone who filled out a questionnaire by the planning and design consultants. It is important for the department's leadership and command staff to be active participants every step of the way in space determination for the current use and future needs.

The result of this activity was a space needs document that established required square footage for every facility component now, in 10 years, and in 20 years. The purpose in including current need was to establish the extent of space deficiency that existed at the time of analysis and separate it from projected need.

Experience has shown that it is important to establish for city decision makers that space deficiency is not something that is anticipated in the future; rather, it is something that already exists and will worsen as demands increased in the future. The space needs document is accompanied by a series of space standards that explained the area allocations used.

In Holland this proved to be particularly important during later scrutiny of the project scope and budget by the city manager and the city council. It established, in a compelling and understandable manner, why the proposed amount of space was absolutely needed.

Facility Options
Step 9, "Evaluate Facility Options," the next step in the facility-planning model, became a major task for Holland. In some cases, an existing facility may be so clearly deficient and deteriorated that remodeling and expansion does not even rise to the level of a question. In other instances, an existing facility may have been so recently built that the thought of abandoning it would not even be considered. In this case study, Holland fell somewhere in the middle of these two situations. While the available space was found to be approximately 30 percent of the space needed, the capital investment was of sufficiently recent vintage that the analysis of the reuse and expansion potential was the first order of business.

The consultants faced this proposition as a challenge, without preconception as to whether a successful outcome could or could not be attained, and with a concerted effort to develop the very best strategy possible. And in this instance, as will be likely in any other jurisdiction where reuse and expansion are considered, it was necessary that the police department had the ability to continue day-to-day operations through all stages of construction and renovation implementation. In short, there was no place for them to be relocated during construction. This brought with it not only the issues of actual working space, but more complicated issues involving the maintenance of public access to services, separate staff access and shift change movements, as well as separate and secure prisoner intake. All of these factors had to be considered without being compromised by, or compromising, the construction contractor's activities.

The Holland site context brought an additional complication: an adjacent district court facility and the need to receive prisoners from the county sheriff's department and move them, together with city prisoners, to court appearances. The prisoner control requirement had to be accomplished without interruption or breach of security during construction activities. To make things even more interesting, the county was undertaking the planning and design of a replacement court facility, to be located on the same site during this same time. Accordingly, the extended planning team included the city administration, the police department, and its consultants, as well as the county, the sheriff's department, and its consultants.

After the identification and exploration of a series of facility options involving the reuse of existing facilities, with staged expansions and renovations- each of which worked to varying degrees -no consensus emerged for any one of them. To resolve this stalemate, the city and county consultants locked themselves in a room and did not come out until a site master plan was developed that met everyone's concerns. Thus emerged the final option that was approved by the city and county and that formed the basis for subsequent design activity by both jurisdictions.

This cooperative effort benefited both jurisdictions and the public. The adopted approach features a shared atrium lobby for both the Holland Police Department and Ottawa County District Court. This provides a common point of entry for all public users. The cost of this space was shared equally between city and county.

Also shared is the development of parking on the site. The court generated the greatest demand for public parking, but the police department needed a secure, protected site. A feature of the site was a sloping terrain that provided the advantage for developing police staff parking in a separate and protected area under the public parking.

It was also found, as the result of these studies, that the best and most economical scheme was for a totally new police facility to be designed and constructed rather than to undertake a staged expansion and renovation of the existing facility. The current site of the existing police facility was traded to the county to provide a location for its new court facility.

Costs and Funding
The planning and design team moved into phase 3, which included step 11, "Develop Preliminary Project Design and Construction Costs." At this point in the process, Holland retained a construction manager, Erhardt Construction of Ada, Michigan. Professional estimating was brought to bear in defining the cost implications of the required project scope. It can now be stated, with the project completed and occupied, that the early estimating proved to be extremely accurate.

Gaining approval of the project by the city council, which included not only budget authority but also approval of the proposed extension of the downtown business district to include the new police facility, was greatly assisted by the solid planning process that preceded it. The council was shown all of the site concepts, with their intricate staging plans and strategies for operations during all implementation phases. The advantages and disadvantages of each were openly and candidly presented. It was strongly conveyed that "everything" had been looked at. The merits of the recommended approach were seen to clearly stand above the other options and approval to go forward was obtained.

Step 12, "Obtain Project Funding," was primarily directed and determined by the Holland city manager and the city building authority. The police leadership participated in the decision-making process to answer questions and make sure that adequate funding would be authorized. From this process it was decided that this project and another city facility that was being constructed would be funded through the selling of bonds.

With approval of the facility program, the master plan, and the preliminary project budget, the stakeholders began acquiring additional parcels of land. In short order, the police and consultant planning and design team found itself at the beginning of the final phase, and a long anticipated task: step 14, "Deliver Design and Construction Services."

Designing the Facility
Everything that preceded this step was necessary preparation, and design could never have started without it. But now the stage was set to shape the facility that would, in turn, shape and support police operations.

Continuing the highly collaborative interaction between the police department planning team and the architectural and law enforcement facility design consultants, the design phase involved frequent meetings.

The design for the new facility reflected the way the Holland Police Department wanted to be able to operate. With a strong focus on community policing already in place, the department wanted the new facility to be open and inviting to the public. At the same time, the facility needed to be zoned and defined with unobtrusive, but absolutely effective, security perimeters to prevent unauthorized access to law enforcement operations areas.

Central to the organization of the various operating components in the facility was the police chief's desire to be at the pivot point of internal movements and readily accessible to staff. This concept shaped the building.

With a corner-located site, and internal circulation configured in an L pattern, the chief's office is located at the corner where all movements converge. Shift changes, roll call and access to lockers all occur in close proximity to the chief's office and associated administrative offices. The flow of these movements is expressed in the shaping of the internal spaces, culminating in a central rotunda outside the chief's office.

Another important feature was the positioning of a multipurpose room that community members could use for events other than those related to police purposes. Since most visits to police agencies are negative in nature, the intent was to have community members come to the department for purposes other than dealing with police issues, thereby fostering positive new relationships. As a result, designers created a multipurpose center off the common lobby that could be entered and used without affecting the security integrity of the remaining portion of the facility. The center includes a kitchen and an outdoor patio as well as state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment. When the room is used for police purposes, the staff has direct access to the room internally.

Staff work areas are designed with open office landscape planning to maximize staff interaction and information sharing. Supervisory offices have acoustic privacy but continue the feeling of openness. Natural light is introduced with windows and overhead clerestories throughout to assist in energy conservation and provide a pleasant working environment.

Many other advantageous design features were put in place and later realized as a result of the highly collaborative planning and design process that involved the police personnel and consultant team.

Step 17, "Build the Facility," began in March 2003. Construction, which took 18 months to complete, went very smoothly. The biweekly progress meetings, which included the site construction supervisor, the architects, and the police project manager and subcontractors, proved to be extremely valuable. The police leadership and the police project manager kept a close eye on construction and were able to quickly address any issues that were not in accord with plans and decide on areas that needed adjustments or change. Due to the prior in-depth planning that had gone into the project, few changes were required.

Transition to Occupancy
During construction, several staff tours allowed employees to observe the progress as well as see where their future work areas would be located. This not only built excitement for the impending result but also allowed staff the opportunity to ask questions. This helped maintain the feeling of ownership in the project by all employees.

Six months before the move-in date, step 18, "Develop Occupancy Strategy," was developed. The original team developed the transition-to-occupancy plan, and the entire move, with the exception of the evidence room, was completed in three days.

The plan involved hiring a moving firm to assist. Several weeks before moving they came through the old facility and determined the approximate number of moving cartons needed. Each employee with a designated work area or office was responsible to pack up the items in his or her area and attach an assigned designation number to each box. Each room in the new facility was assigned the number associated with the employee and the moving firm simply placed the boxes in the appropriately numbered room. Staff members then were responsible to unpack the boxes and set up their work area or office. Every item received a number, making the moving process very easy.

Evidence property had to be handled differently. To maintain the chain of custody, two police officers and the captain of administrative services transferred the evidence to the new facility. All the property was tracked through a newly acquired evidence room barcode system that recorded the transfer from the location in the old facility to its new location, protecting the integrity of the evidence.

On Saturday, September 18, the weekend before the move-in date, the department held a community dedication ceremony and open house. Due to the amount of interest the new facility had created with its innovative features and focal presence, it was appropriate to allow the public to examine every square inch of the building. An estimated 3,000 people toured the facility that Saturday.

The Results
Building an 80,000-square-foot police facility using 14 million dollars of the community's money requires resourcefulness, diligence, and responsibility. Using the facility planning model in the IACP Police Facility Planning Guidelines helped the members of the Holland Police Department apply all three. This in turn helped them obtain the necessary approval and support from community members and the successful completion of the building project.

In summary, the IACP Police Facility Planning Guidelines were invaluable to Holland, Michigan. The guidelines served as a roadmap for a comprehensive planning process and provided checklists on the important issues that police leaders should consider when planning a state-of-the-art law enforcement facility. ■   



From The Police Chief, vol. 72, no. 7, July 2005. Copyright held by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 515 North Washington Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 USA.

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