Why is the City seeking to build a new police and municipal court building?

The police station and municipal court are too small to deliver the current programming.  They are also inconveniently located on Bainbridge Island. 

The current locations and facilities make it difficult to provide high-quality services to the community.

  • Examples for the police station: 
    • At the police station,  there is a small waiting area for serving the public. The waiting space provides no privacy for individuals conducting business at the clerk’s window. Fingerprinting for the public occurs in this space in an area between staff and public restrooms.
    • The electrical circuits are inadequate to power technology and equipment. There is no generator to supply power during an outage. 
    • There is no secure parking area to move prisoners from vehicles into the building. 
    • There is a single interview room which must be used for both prisoner and victim interviews. The area is unsecured from other spaces in the building and the exterior. A recording system has been added since the 2014 report. 
    • The Community Police Academy is held in an approximately 15’ x 20’ space in the lower level of the building. The size limits community participation in department events. This space is not adequately ventilated to provide necessary climate control.
  • Examples for the municipal court: 
    • The city does not own the Court facility.  
    • The current court is not located on a main bus line, which makes it difficult to get to for some users. 
    • There are insufficient private areas for attorneys to discuss case details and fill out paperwork with clients.  Meetings must be held in the parking lot or bathroom to obtain privacy.  
    • The court room is extremely small and victims must sit in close proximity (approximately 5 feet) to people they are seeking to obtain a protective order against during hearings.  
    • The court does not have a witness stand or jury box for jury trials or space to place them. Portable chairs are set up for these purposes and furniture must be rearranged for a jury trial. 
    • The hallway and courtroom area is insufficient to provide distancing between perpetrators and victims who are attending the same hearing.  
    • The staff bathroom is also a hallway between the lunchroom and the court administrators “office”.  
    • The lunch room doubles as a jury room and is not big enough.  
    • The walls are thin and conversations carry through the walls. Any door that is shut shakes the whole building.  
    • There is only adequate space for security screening in the hallway.  
    • It is an inadequate and unprofessional space for the City to carry out important functions.  
    • The court s currently located in a facility deemed as “temporary” over 20 years ago. The court is in a building, which is mostly a storage facility; our court has been remodeled from storage space.  

In 2014, the City contracted with the Mackenzie firm to conduct a study of the current police and court facilities and analyze potential options for replacement. The study found that the current facility is undersized and outdated for effective, modern law enforcement. There are numerous deficiencies (PDF) listed in the report. Below is a small sample of deficiencies at the Police Station: 

  • Structural and Site Deficiencies: 
    • Unreinforced masonry buildings like this one have proven to perform very poorly during seismic events. Additionally, the current site lacks sufficient space, has areas that are cramped and difficult to access, has unsecured parking, and has loose wiring for electricity and telecommunications that rests on the rooftop and is easily subject to tampering or damage from adjacent trees. 
  • Evidence Storage: 
    • The evidence technician’s desk is located within the evidence storage room, exposing the employee to constant interaction with potentially dangerous substances. 
  • Records Archives: 
    • The archives room was the subject of a prior sewage leak, thankfully compromising only one bin of documents. The storage space is currently filled to capacity. 
  • Interview Rooms: 
    • The interview rooms lack the proper technology to effectively record meetings and provide security and privacy for the police, victims, and suspects. 
  • Toilet Room: 
    • Neither of the two restrooms are fully ADA compliant; one meets the spatial requirements, though it lacks the vertical grab bar necessary. Both are accessed through the public lobby and pose a security risk to officers and staff. 
  • Holding Cell
    • The facility currently has no secure holding cells. The cells shown in diagrams from the 2014 report do not meet accreditation standards and cannot be used for that purpose. There are no restroom facilities for prisoners in this building.  

Read the Mackenzie study here.


Show All Answers

1. Why is the City seeking to build a new police and municipal court building?
2. Why did the City choose Harrison as the site?
3. How did the City arrive at the $8.975 million purchase price?
4. Did the purchase of the Harrison building include medical equipment?
5. How did the City pay for the building?
6. What is the current estimated cost of the Police/Court Facility?
7. Did the City overpay for the building?
8. Why is the Council now discussing the costs?
9. What’s the status of the project?
10. What happens if the Council decides to put this project on hold?