Archive for Thursday, October 24, 1996

POLICE MAKING MOST OF COSE QUARTERS

October 24, 1996

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As city officials examine pressing space needs of various departments, the Lawrence Police Department is trying to maximize room.

It's moving week, and the Lawrence Police Department is inventing ways to do more with less.

Faced with ever-growing numbers and less square footage than when the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center opened 20 years ago, police are moving staff and making office changes.

"We're cramped," said Kevin Harmon, Lawrence police administrative lieutenant.

Computer operators are moving from the basement into the police front office, which already holds 10 staff members. The operators will take over a new department computer system.

Traditional files are being replaced with more space-friendly lateral files -- shelves instead of drawers. Work stations are being disassembled and moved.

"We're cutting down on open space, what little there is," Harmon said. "We've maximized the space as much as we can."

In the meantime, city officials are trying to balance requests for space from several of the departments.

Since 1976, the city and county have shared space in the JLE building, 111 E. 11th. In addition to the second-floor police department, the Municipal Court also occupies part of the building.

When the new Douglas County Jail opens east of the city in 1998, part of the current jail facility could become county office space.

Douglas County Sheriff Loren Anderson said there has not been a shortage of offers for the vacated room.

"Everyone's cramped, everyone would like the space," Anderson said.

Although second-floor space is at a premium, officials have discussed moving the Municipal Court out of the building, possibly opening up first floor room for police. A proposal to move the court to a building on Massachusetts Street fell through this year in part because of rent concerns.

"We've been looking at that for quite some time," assistant city manager Rod Bremby said.

The city is also considering a remote police site as part of a 1998 or 1999 capital improvements budget.

"(The JLE) is more centrally located, so we'd have to go more westerly," Bremby said. "That's a few years away."

The public works, parks and recreation and fire departments have also requested additional space.

"The issue is being looked at, but there are no quick, easy or cost-free solutions," Bremby said. "The commission has evaluated (the police) request along with several others."

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