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OSP offices in Central Point set to double in size

A rendering shows how the expanded OSP facility in Central Point will look. [Courtesy photo]

Nearly three decades since being constructed next to Crater High School in the mid-1990s, the Central Point offices for Oregon State Police will be updated and expanded to accommodate a growing agency and community.

Maj. Mike Turner, spokesperson for OSP, said the project had been years in the making. Existing facilities were constructed in the mid-1990s. Turner said everything from security and HVAC systems to roofing and technology infrastructure were long overdue for upgrade or replacement.

“We have been in that building since 1996. It was previously owned by the state of Oregon, and we leased from them until 2017. Prior to that, state police couldn’t own our own buildings,” Turner said.

“We were granted approval to be able to purchase buildings and took ownership in 2017.”

Plans are to renovate the existing 24,000-square-foot facility and add an additional 24,000 square feet. Turner said the new structure would take into account building resilience standards for earthquakes and natural disasters.

“Almost immediately after we purchased the building (in 2017), we began examining not only that building but buildings around the state, to determine what our needs were going to be for the future,” Turner said.

“We had a firm that evaluated all our facilities and our needs and current uses and staffing levels and how the current buildings were functioning in response to all that. They prepared a report that suggested future facility needs, and so we went to the Legislature and said this building doesn’t meet our needs, based on this report. We requested funding to remodel and expand.”

With a slew of operations housed in the facility off Highway 99, including troopers, detectives, fish and wildlife officers, a crime lab and medical examiner’s office, Turner said, each area, as an independent unit, had different functions and needs not being met in the current space.

Turner said security of the facility is outdated and “not up to industry standard.” In addition to security and fencing upgrades, the project calls for new HVAC and roofing for existing structures and a redesign of how individual spaces are utilized.”

For at least the past decade, Turner said, uses had been combined and many departments had shared space.

“For example, if we want to interview somebody who is a victim, witness or who has committed a crime, we have to use an office, and currently there isn’t a special interview room for those purposes,” Turner added.

“You don’t want to walk those people through your office, and you want a safe and neutral space to interview them, especially in sensitive situations.”

A major part of the project, Turner said, is a new regional dispatch center. Construction and moving into the facility will be carefully staged to ensure no gaps in coverage.

“The dispatch in that facility dispatches for half of the state of Oregon, not just dispatching locally. They cover about half the state,” he said.

Construction will be broken into various phases, with some areas being repurposed to ensure operations won’t be interrupted at any point.

“Dispatch will move into a new addition, as will the crime lab. The medical examiner officer will take up part of the remodel, and we’re adding an addition for them, as well. Each of those groups needs their own area to perform their day-to-day functions,” he added.

“We’re planning to add the first addition for the initial phase. The first part of construction will be the addition for the crime lab and dispatch. Those are two groups that can’t function anywhere else.”

“You don’t just move a dispatch center,” he added. “We will have to design, construct and build their new space, and they will have to be able to move into that new area before we can remodel their old space. There are a lot of moving parts for sure.”

Matt Samitore, Central Point parks and public works director, said the city planned some security upgrades for its next-door Skyrman Park during the OSP project.

“We’ll be expanding our driveway into Skyrman Arboretum as a secondary access for patrol officers,” Samitore said.

“It’s a win-win for us in that it will help OSP to have secondary access to the site and will help us keep more eyes on the park.

Having maintained operations for decades in a too-small space, Turner said, employees had risen to the occasion and delivered “top notch” service despite limitations.

“The quality of service provided to the region is a credit to our employees. We have a great team and great employees, troopers, scientists, doctors … all who do phenomenal work and don’t let any restrictions or limitations impact quality or efficiency of service being provided,” Turner said.

“The new design will allow us to develop processes that are quicker and more efficient. One employee won’t have to move out of the way so another employee can step in and do their work — that kind of thing.”

Turner added, “When we talk about remodeling or upgrading, we want to get to a resiliency standard. When we talk about the Cascadia zone … in the event that an earthquake happened, or any other natural disaster, we want to be there when Oregonians need us most. We want to have good, safe, functioning buildings so that we can handle anything and everything that could occur.”

Reach reporter Buffy Pollock at 541-776-8784 or bpollock@rosebudmedia.com. Follow her on Twitter @orwritergal.