Scott Johnson

April snow that refused to melt remained on the ground, a reminder of a winter that just would not end. That morning, we sat around the table in the squad room drinking coffee, discussing the department’s upcoming temporary relocation next door to the fire station training room. There would be 21 members of the police department all sharing this room. Thankfully, since we work shifts, not all at the same time. For the duration, our records technicians, Jackie Heinrich and Janell Hecimovich, would move upstairs to the Administration Department in City Hall. Every item in the police station, including telephones and computers, had to be moved to the fire station. When we ran out of room there, the remainder would be crammed into two shipping containers that were resting in the parking lot. Thank goodness for City Building Maintenance Engineer Everett Baumgarner and City Building Inspector Nathan Morlan who did much of the heavy lifting. 

I dread police moves, as I am always amazed at the sheer number of things that a police department seems to collect. It is as though police officers just never throw anything out. After all, we never know when we may need something again.

The reason for all this was that the police station was due to get some much needed updates with new floor coverings to replace the threadbare carpeting, fresh paint and furniture. Police stations always seem to get more wear and tear than other office facilities as they are used around the clock. The front counter area would be redesigned to provide three workstations, instead of two, and there would be security enhancements. A separate area would be available to officers for processing drug evidence. I always cringed when I saw officers packaging meth and opioids on the same table that they used to eat lunch. A storage room on the lower level of the building would become a combination public waiting area and interview room.

As we were discussing our pending relocation, we playfully took bets as to when the project would be completed and we would once again be back in the police station. We were scheduled to move out of the station mid-April. Each of us at the table took our best guess. Dates ranged from Memorial Day to mid-July. I offered mine, “We should be in about the time of the Tall Timber Days parade in August.” Everyone laughed as the work would surely be completed much sooner than that. I just smiled. I had been through this many times before and knew that contractors’ timelines are excessively optimistic and there are always unforeseen delays.

I was wrong. The parade was on Sunday. We didn’t move back into the police station until Tuesday. Frankly, I was surprised that I guessed so close to the date. When I arrived at work that Tuesday morning, I found our IT Department, Erik Scott and Lasha Karels, feverishly disconnecting computers and telephones, moving them from the fire station to the police station. Sergeant Kevin Ott, Officer Michelle Norris and Investigator Jeremy Nelson were carrying boxes across the alley to the police station. Janelle and Jackie were moving boxes of records and forms back into the station. By noon, our computers and telephones were again working and the fire department training room was empty. 

I dreaded coming to work the next morning knowing that it would take all day to move everything from the shipping containers back into the police station. As I walked into the station that Wednesday morning, I was shocked. All the contents of the shipping containers were now in the police station, crammed into every available inch of space. “How can this be? Who did this?” I asked. I soon learned that Officer Bill Saw and Officer Tim Dirkes had worked all night to empty the containers. This was in addition to handling police calls and issuing tickets to vehicles parked in the central business district who violated the overnight parking limits. We spent the rest of the day unpacking and setting up offices. 

There are still some minor finishing touches left to be done on the building, but we are home again in the police station. Nathan Morlan did a great job steering this project. If you have time, I invite you to stop by and see your newly remodeled police station. It really is very nice. I know I speak for all members of the Grand Rapids Police Department when I say, “Thank you very much! We are very grateful.” 

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