September 29, 2007 in Voices

Barrier inside police precinct to be replaced using federal funds

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Following attacks on police in North Idaho, the Spokane Valley Police Department will fortify the public areas of the Valley precinct using money from a federal grant.

Even before the fatal shootings in Moscow last May, Chief Rick Van Leuven and his staff had been working on an emergency plan and looking at how to improve security in the building.

At its meeting Tuesday, the City Council accepted $34,000 from the Department of Homeland Security to replace the barrier between the front desk and the public areas of the building.

“The bigger concern is potential domestic terrorism threats,” Van Leuven said.

About 80 people work out of the building, which includes a municipal court. Visitors already pass through metal detectors and are subject to bag searches, which Van Leuven said discovered a knife last month.

In the event of an emergency, police officials have been ironing out procedures to protect employees and the public, while maintaining the police operations run from the precinct.

Police service in Spokane Valley is provided through a contract with the Sheriff’s Office. The city now owns the precinct building on Sprague, a storefront converted to a police station by the county before Valley incorporation.

During earlier meetings, some on the council have asked what the department would do to accommodate people with an emergency who show up at the precinct building when it is closed to the public.

Van Leuven said Tuesday he is looking into the department’s options for helping people who arrive after hours. In the meantime, “if they need us, they simply call and we send an officer there,” he said.

Since late 2004 when Crime Check was replaced with a nonemergency number that is not operational 24 hours a day, police and sheriff’s officials have regularly reminded residents to call 911 anytime they see a crime in progress or find themselves in a life-threatening situation.


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