To protect, serve and house

Colorado Springs Police Cmdr. Scott Whittington explains the advantages of oversized lockers in the new Sand Creek precinct substation. The 37,800-square-foot facility opens in June. [Express photo/Jessica Kuhn]

New Sand Creek police precinct is ready for action

The building is wide-open, light, contemporary. It’s welcoming — or at least as welcoming as a police station can be. But above all else, it’s big. Really big. More than twice the size of the space it is replacing. 

This is the soon-to-be opened Colorado Springs Police Sand Creek substation, a massive 37,800-square-foot tribute to law and order set to take on staff in June. The facility, at 950 Academy Park Loop, will take in the operations currently housed at the 17,560-square-foot substation at 4125 Center Park Drive. 

And that means more and better opportunities for community-centric service, said precinct Cmdr. Scott Whittington. He took the Express on an exclusive tour of the new facility in April, as construction was wrapping up.

“We want this building to be around for 35, 40 years,” Whittington said. “We’re … very pleased with the opportunity to make this available to the community.” 

“There’s a building full of reasons we’ll be able to better do our jobs.” — Colorado Springs Police Cmdr. Scott Whittington

To serve the protectors

The new substation includes a large civilian waiting room with a designated space (pictured to the left of the doors) for people to safely conduct transactions or other business. [Express photo/Jessica Kuhn].

The new facility has all the elements critical to efficient and effective policing, including: private interview rooms; a state-of-the-art evidence storage room; a staff gym; locker rooms complete with over-sized lockers; designated offices for command staff; improved work spaces for sworn officers, detectives and civilian staff; a surplus of secure storage; an armory; a massive secured garage for loading and unloading evidence vans or suspects; and, for those who find themselves running afoul of the law, 12 holding cells. There’s even an outdoor fitness area for staff and a patio where team members can take a break, gather to talk or just decompress. 

Since, at its heart, policing is about protecting and serving the community, the architects and design team made plenty of accommodations for the constituents. 

The civilian space comprises a large waiting room, a sun-soaked community meeting room that Whittington said could double as a Southeast-based emergency operations center, and a smaller meeting space where people can safely conduct online-initiated transactions or other business. 

“If you’re on Craigslist or some of those things and you want a safe place to come make the exchange, this is where you can do that,” he said. 

Critically, the cells quadruple the substation’s capacity from its current three. In accordance with federal law, they are designed to separate by sight and sound the men, women, juvenile males and juvenile females, Whittington said. 

Getting to this point was no easy task. A design team studied and toured stations along the Front Range for ideas, and the best concepts were adapted for the new substation, Whittington said. 

“It was a team effort from a lot of people,” he said. “We tried to think of everything.” 

The city tapped Springs-based DLR Group to take on the architectural responsibilities and local contractor GH Phipps for the construction. The department purchased its sprawling 8-acre campus for $760,000 and building costs have come in at $15.5 million, Whittington confirmed. 

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Room to grow

The new Sand Creek police substation increases from three to 12 the number of holding cells in the precinct. The cells are designed to isolate suspects by age (juveniles and adults) and gender (males and females). [Express photo/Jessica Kuhn]

The substation currently is home to 135 team members, comprising 115 sworn officers, 11 civilians and nine volunteers, but is authorized to a staff of 145. And although they aren’t all in the building at the same time, the Center Park Drive substation is nonetheless jam-packed. 

The soon-to-be retired facility was built in 1988, according to El Paso County Assessor Records, at a time when newspaper archives show the department took an interest in decentralizing policing in favor of building presences in the city’s northern and Southeast neighborhoods. The substation opened its doors in 1989. 

Today, as the Springs continues to grow and push east, Whittington said the new precinct home is designed to accommodate the department’s inevitable growth.

“There’s a building full of reasons we’ll be able to better do our jobs,” Whittington said. 

For those outside of Southeast, the common narrative says the neighborhood is the city’s most dangerous, crime-ridden community. But the commander, who started his career patrolling Southeast even before the Center Park Drive campus was built, has a different take. 

 “We also have the most patrol officers here,” he said. “Ninety to 95 percent of the residents are good, hard-working people.” 

And with the larger space and a floor plan designed for ease of movement, he said, the department will be able to do even more to serve Southeast. 

 

Check it out

Who: The Colorado Springs Police Department

What: A ribbon-cutting ceremony celebrating the new Sand Creek substation, followed by tours

When: 10 a.m. Monday, June 17

Where: 950 Academy Park Loop

Info: Coloradosprings.gov/police-department

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