Architect shares vision for Portsmouth police stationBy KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent
September 09. 2018 11:06PM
PORTSMOUTH — Safety features and amenities for a new police station in Portsmouth were discussed Thursday evening during a presentation at the public library.
Police officials say the demands of 21st century public safety have caused a seismic shift in what a building must provide for officers, victims of crime and citizens even at a mid-sized city department.
The Portsmouth Police Department has occupied the two basement levels and a corner of the main floor of the City Hall building since 1991. Building a new facility has been an identified need for the city for several years.
According to the city’s capital improvement plan, a study conducted in Fiscal Year 2014 determined the current police facility no longer met the needs of the department. Officials plan to allocate $11 million within the next three years to build a new station.
During a break in his presentation Thursday, consulting architect James McClaren, of Phoenix, Az., talked about the role of a modern police facility in the community. He has helped to plan about 300 police stations and has experience working in different capacities with larger cities such as Seattle, Dallas and New York.
McClaren said modern police stations serve as hubs of activity where people can make Craig’s list transactions, drop off children for arranged care and dispose of unwanted drugs.
“The safest spaces are the ones that are full of people and alive,” McClaren said.
In his presentation, McClaren offered suggestions for some of the most vital parts of a police department, including the Emergency Operations Center and Communications Center, saying they need to be carefully constructed to be safe and comfortable for those who work in those spaces.
McClaren also had suggestions to keep officers and detectives happy, calling them “small, meaningful details” such as sliding glass doors and a mud room where boots can be washed off before entering the main structure.
Thursday was the second of a two-day, eight-hour presentation by McClaren and Portsmouth architect Will Gatchell.