City of Owasso buys old bank to help alleviate tight working conditions in the police department

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Reported by: Sara Whaley
Updated: 8/20/2013 11:48 pm Published: 8/20/2013 11:47 pm

It's hard for some police officers to keep you safe when they have no room to work. The Owasso Police Department is bursting at the seams, but the city is fixing the problem.

The Owasso City Council voted 3 to 2 Tuesday night to buy the old First Bank of Owasso down the street from City Hall.

It's a decision the acting city manager says needed to be made, and one that will not only help the department, but the entire city.

It's no secret Owasso is growing, and when the city grows, the need for a bigger police department grows too.

When you put three detectives in one space it makes it very difficult to handle their business,” acting city manager Warren Lehr told FOX23.

Right now the police department is housed in City Hall, and Lehr says the space is about half of what they need for the staff they have.

Owasso police chief Scott Chambless showed FOX23 around the station so we could get a better look at the problem.

"This room is a storage closet that we have to put our administrative sergeant in,” Chambless said.

They’re tight working conditions and that's just the beginning. Six detectives share two small offices and others share offices with traffic cones.

The department can’t even keep all of its property and evidence in house.

“We actually have to have a property room off site in another building,” Chambless told FOX23.

Also, their workout room doubles as a place for training.

Lehr says these conditions make recruiting new officers tough.

“It's more difficult to recruit into crammed spaces or lack of equipment or amenities you normally find in a police headquarters,” he said.

However, with tonight's decision that will all soon change. If you count one to two years soon.

It will take that long to buy the bank and renovate it first. After that happens, City Hall will be moved to the bank, and the police department will be allowed to take over completely the existing City Hall.

Lehr thinks buying instead of building is a good move financially.

“It’s a total cost of around $4.5 million to what otherwise cost $15 million or more."

The money will come from a fund that was voted on a few years back to improve the city.

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