Monday, November 18, 2013

New Digs for the UW-L PD, by William Ricioppo

UW-L police welcome a long-awaited new home with the addition of a new parking structure on campus.

“After operating from a 1,600 square-foot house for as long as I can remember, it’s good to be able to stretch-out into 8,200 square feet,” notes UW-L Police Sergeant Scott McCullough. “This is great.”

The university police force of around 15 members made do in a cramped, single-story house across the lot from Wimberly Hall until the move into the new building just before the Fall 2013 semester.

Campus cops are feeling revitalized after utilizing nearly every inch of their former home for multiple purposes. “Aside from using the kitchen in the old building as a meeting room, it wasn’t uncommon to be interviewing a suspect in there with the smell of someone’s lunch still in the air,” McCullough adds. “Not only was it impractical and inconvenient, but embarrassing at times. We also relied heavily on the city police space for things like interviewing and booking. Now we have our own facilities for all that.”

Recently, the UW-L Police Department hosted an open house in the new headquarters on the south east corner of the new covered parking ramp. The ramp is located on the north end of campus between Farwell and La Crosse Streets.

The new building not only has its own booking area, but two interview rooms, an armory, plenty of office space, a reception area, and a large media room. Additionally, the modernized dispatch and communications room features state-of-the-art equipment, on the same platform as all other area law enforcement agencies.
Sealing-off operational areas from public space in the building provides the force with a disaster and emergency response facility as well. “What now becomes the command and control center here, when locked-down, is blast, impact, and bullet-proof,” adds parking manager Victor Hill.

The new structure has not only given the force a new home, but also doubled available parking space for students and staff. “We had roughly 300 uncovered spaces there previously. Now we have 600 stalls, and the ramp is designed to be expanded upon,” notes Hill. With the addition of two new levels in the next few years that number of spaces will increase to roughly 1,000. “After parking space being so restricted in the past, so many new spaces available is a fun problem to have,” Hill says.