Residents in the Hillyard neighborhood won’t need long to learn that the head of the new North Police Precinct, Capt. Craig Meidl, is friendly and has a sense of humor. He’s also happy to give tours of a facility so new that there is no furniture, and the coffee pot hadn’t even been plugged in.
The new police precinct at the southeast corner of Market Street and Diamond Avenue had a grand opening celebration Tuesday afternoon. Once you are past the front desk and reception area, there’s a large open room that has only two desks tucked in a corner.
“We call this the grand hall,” Meidl said as he gestured to the open space. “I just made that up right now.”
Jokes aside, Meidl said he’s happy to be heading up the department’s latest police precinct.
“This makes us more accessible to the community,” he said. “We’re not buried in the middle of the Public Safety Building.”
Meidl will be working out of the building during the day, and the north patrol night shift commanders also will work out of the building. The front desk will be staffed during business hours, and two detectives already are working out of the building.
There wasn’t a ribbon to cut Tuesday, but Mayor David Condon and police Chief Frank Straub spoke about the new precinct. The city-owned building was previously used for police department storage and was surrounded by an “ugly” chain-link fence that didn’t add to the neighborhood, Straub said.
“That chain-link fence is down,” Straub said. “Our doors are open.”
Community groups will be able to use the building as well.
“As you can see, we have plenty of room,” he said.
Straub said his effort to create neighborhood precincts is one way the department is working to build more trust in the community.
“We have to earn trust,” he said. “You earn trust by what you do day in and day out.”
Kelly Anderson, who owns Hidden Gem Thrift just a few doors down from the new precinct, said she’s glad to see it.
“I think it will help keep it regulated up here,” she said. “It’s kind of like a little security, knowing that they’re there.”
The first police precinct opened in downtown Spokane in 2013 and there are plans to move it to a larger location at the Intermodal Center later this year. This city also is looking for a location on the South Hill to open a third precinct.
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