Taxpayers spent far more than initially expected to extensively renovate the Police Department’s Headquarters in downtown Kansas City. The results appear to be a building that will serve the public well and improve working conditions for the police.
“They didn’t shortchange us on anything,” Police Chief Darryl Forté said during last week’s dedication, as both he and Mayor Sly James thanked Kansas Citians for approving two public safety sales tax issues in 2002 and 2010 to pay for the $40.5 million reconstruction.
That was about $12 million, or more than 40 percent, higher than city and police officials once had estimated.
The project’s highlight is the spacious community room on the first floor, which features plenty of daylight thanks to large windows. Police board meetings will be held there, as will numerous other public gatherings. It’s a convenient place for the Police Department to share information with the public, rather than trying to cram everyone together in the previously hard-to-get-to former board room. James properly noted that the room also could help police improve community relationships, which are necessary to fight crime collaboratively.
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In addition, the renovation provided a cleaner, more inviting and wheelchair-accessible area for walk-in reports by the public. Detectives and other officers will work in modern office spaces, which should help make them more efficient. Mechanical improvements have been made to elevators and the heating and cooling systems, while new restrooms were added as well.
Unfortunately, the cost overrun on the headquarters reduced the funds available for a new patrol station north of the river. Officials must find a way to build this project without shortchanging anti-crime efforts in that fast-growing part of the city.