By Olga Pena

Killeen Daily Herald

HARKER HEIGHTS Design plans for a new police station have taken on new life for Chief Mike Gentry, who said he is tickled to death about construction starting early next year.

Up to this point, weve been planning with hope that it would come to fruition, Gentry said. Now its a reality. We know that were actually going to do it.

The City Council awarded the bid for the $2,445,700 project to Pearson Construction Inc. of Waco on Tuesday.

The project is set to be completed within 300 days just in time for Christmas 2006.

An artists rendering of the 16,890-square-foot building, to be located at the 400 block of Indian Trail, hangs in the police department.

Gentry, who has worked hand-in-hand with architects from The Wallace Group in Waco during the projects design phase, said the purpose of the new station is three-fold.

The new building will focus on the safety of personnel, ease in police operations and ensuring the safety and dignity of victims and visitors.

We have the ability to provide for privacy and dignity to those people who are victims of a bad circumstance, said Gentry, who heads the 50-person staff. We handle a lot more good guys than bad guys.

The police departments current 8,000-square-foot building was built in 1972 and was not intended for police use.

Volunteer firefighters and city officials once filled the halls and rooms of the building, which, Gentry said, is falling apart.

Evidence is currently stored in what was once a fire truck bay, training takes place in the former council chamber, and victims file complaints where utility bills were once paid.

The new, purpose-specific building will feature several state-of-the-art components, including Plexiglas holding cells, high-tech evidence-handling equipment, an area with vault-enhanced interview capabilities and tiered security.

Tiered refers to four areas located within the station: public, semi-public, secure and high-security. The high-security area is located toward the back of the building.

A sallyport a secure loading bay for officers to transport offenders without the possibility of escape will lead directly into the stations holding area.

Doing away with jail cell bars, the new holding area will feature Plexiglas cells that provide for more security and better observation of prisoners.

The new facility is divided into several areas: lobby, training, records, administration, criminal investigation, juvenile, patrol, holding, break rooms, evidence and community services.

Gentry said he is excited about the new facilitys professional and visitor-friendly appearance and its new location.

A vaulted ceiling featuring a lighted Harker Heights star will be a major focus of the entrance lobby. In addition, there will be display areas that will hold relics, such as a jail cell door from the current police facility.

Besides the many features included in the approved plans, the new facility will have room for expansion, such as court facilities.

Contact Olga Peña at

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