ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - After the Anchorage Police Department moved into its headquarters on Elmore Road in the mid-1980s, it didn't take long for the evidence room to fill up and other spaces to become cramped.
Now, with more than 200 police department employees in the process of moving to the department's new headquarters downtown in the former Legislative Information Office building, Chief Justin Doll hopes Anchorage voters will approve a bond authorization allowing the department to renovate its old space.
"We do still have some employees that will be working out of the Elmore facility. Primarily dispatch, records, some of those support staff positions, and those people also need to have some of their workspace renovated to make it more effective for the work they're doing," Doll said.
Proposition 7 in the Municipal election would authorize up to $3.5 million for the renovations. The expected property tax increase to pay off the debt would be 81 cents per $100,000 of property value.
"What we primarily need there is more storage space for evidence," Doll said. "The police department has a tremendous amount of items in our property and evidence facilities and we're basically out of space. We've been looking for a long time at various ways to solve that issue and most of them involve new construction, which is very expensive on the order of $30-40 million. We see a renovation of the Elmore facility for that storage purpose to be a much more cost-effective solution."
Doll says much of APD's evidence has been stored at different locations off-site for several years. The renovations would allow all evidence to be stored under one roof.
APD's crime lab has also been working out of cramped space. The area was originally designed to be a jail and has been modified over the years. The crime lab will remain at the Elmore location, but Doll says the renovation would allow more efficient work.
"The current lab capacity, we do a lot of forensic, fingerprint analysis there and some other forensic work. We don't do DNA work there. We don't have the ability to do that, but the space that they're in has been too small for a very long time and as the department has grown, as Anchorage has grown and the department has taken on more work, that space has never been adjusted to deal with the increased workload," Doll said.
Doll says expanding the crime lab space within the Elmore building will speed up the investigative process.
"The most expensive thing that the police department has is staff, and anything we can do to make our staff more efficient, there's always a win cost there. So when you look at redesigning a facility like this, yes there's definitely some money involved, but it is much less than all the other plans that had been proposed," Doll said.