The Lake in the Hills Police Department is working with an architectural firm to evaluate where and how to build a new police station that would serve the long-term needs of the village.
Lake in the Hills Police Chief David Brey said the current station at 1115 Crystal Lake Road was built 27 years ago – when the population of the village was a fraction of what it is now – and the cramped conditions have resulted in small workstations, a confined prisoner processing area and limited capacity for evidence storage.
“It’s a constant task to keep up with evidence,” Brey said.
To determine the best plan for a police station that can serve Lake in the Hills for the next 30 to 50 years, police are working with FGM Architects to evaluate expansion options.
FGM’s Ray Lee provided an update of the firm’s research during a Lake in the Hills Village Board meeting last month.
Based on the firm’s research, Lee said there isn’t much value in developing a long-term solution for the existing building.
“This is not something we take lightly because we actually believe in saving buildings more than we believe in tearing them down,” Lee said. “It’s just a lot that has to be done here.”
Lake in the Hills police currently occupy about 17,600 square feet of space between four structures, Lee said. The police department’s existing station is about 12,162 square feet.
Lee said that, according to his findings, a standalone police station would require between 33,704 and 35,704 square feet to adequately handle the long-term needs of the village.
Parking analysis indicates that a police station would need 53 staff spaces and 40 visitor spaces, Lee said. In speaking with some of the officers, Lee said a common concern is damage to cars because of co-mingled parking between police, staff and the public.
In order to move between floors, staff have to travel through the station’s holding area. Lee said this presents a potential problem because firearms are supposed to be locked up when the secured holding area is in use.
However, one of the station’s key functionality problems Lee pointed out was evidence processing and storage.
Evidence storage is adjacent to the station’s sally port and Lee said there is no dedicated space for packaging evidence. Evidence storage and records also share space with the sump pump that operates for the whole building.
“There should not be a sump pump, where you’re storing evidence for court,” Brey said.
One area of the station that definitively shows the cramped conditions of the spaces is the men’s and women’s locker rooms.
Lee described the women’s locker room, which is used by six officers, as the size of a closet.
There are no toilets in the women’s locker room and Brey said showers in the locker rooms had been an afterthought once the building had been built.
Locker room showers typically are used to hang wet equipment out to dry, Lee said.
Lee said the smallest locker his firm typically puts in a police station locker room is 2-feet wide by 2 feet deep. However, Lee said, the lockers in the Lake in the Hills station are basically high school lockers, which Brey said were about 1 foot by and 1½ feet.
Brey also said that locker rooms also are in need of proper ventilation to air out equipment.
Other things Brey said he would like to see in a new station are a secured sally port, larger processing areas and expanded desk space for officers and records employees.
One possibility some trustees were interested in hearing more about was expanding Lake in the Hills’ Village Hall to create a municipal complex, such as the one used in Huntley.
Lee said a full report evaluating various expansion plans will be presented in the near future.