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At last: Room to operate!

<i>Phil Pfuehler photos</i> Showing off the bright new lobby space of the police part of the Public Safety Building are left to right: Ailene Splittgerber, Wanita Caskey and Heidi Huppert.

The River Falls Police Department moved into a renovated section of the Public Safety Building (old the City Hall) earlier this month. The entrance to the PD shifted from Second Street to Elm Street, with garage bays and patrol officer work stations facing the alley toward Main Street.

"From a customer-service perspective, there are distinct advantages to this facility," Leque said. "One of the most noticeable is that there's ample street parking right at the door to the walk-up entrance. The parking spots are metered but very convenient because they're close and there's less congestion on Elm Street than Second."

The push-button doors open automatically, and one of the service counters inside is lower for visitors using a wheelchair.

Leque said the lobby used to be congested during busy times. Now there is a conference room adjacent to the lobby that will help decongest the area.

The key word to describe the renovation is "space."

"We have a lot more of it, more than twice as much as before," Leque said.

He said the department has a booking area separate from officers' work stations; it can handle multiple clients at once; it can work more efficiently and securely; and the department now has room for storage, meetings and interviews.

The basement section of the police department is still being readied but will include a locker room and men's and women's showers. Officers can clean up if they get dirty or their uniforms are soiled while on duty.

A large new briefing room is where officers and the on-duty sergeant gather at shift changes to review the day's activities and special assignments.

Officers leaving in their squad cars will exit and return to the facility from the Elm Street alley.

"That's a better arrangement for us than when we used Second Street, which is busy and can be hard to get in and out of," Leque said.

Read more about the renovated Public Safety Building in the Dec. 24 print edition of the River Falls Journal.