MARANA, AZ (Tucson News Now) - The Marana Police Department is beginning a community outreach effort to explain the need for a new police station in the fast growing community of about 40,000.
Police Chief Terry Rozema gave Tucson News Now a tour of their cramped quarters on Monday afternoon.
The administrative offices are housed at the Marana Municipal complex, where Rozema said there was not much room for training or evidence storage.
Majority of the patrol officers were based out of the police sub-station off Ina Road, where an old electric company building had been converted into city offices and a police station.
Offices inside the building had been converted into make-shift holding cells and interview rooms. Rozema said it was not a secure place to hold suspects, and the walls were so thin, those in the holding cell could hear what was being said in the interview room. Officers combated that problem by turning a radio up very high, but the noise would end up in the interview recording, which posed problems at times.
Hallways were also being used to store tactical equipment, and with no training facility, officers would clear the tables and chairs in the briefing room to practice defensive tactical maneuvers, said Rozema.
The facility had less than 20 lockers for more than 80 officers. They were assigned on a lottery basis. They did not have separate locker rooms for male and female officers, so they had to change in the bathroom, which they shared with suspects being detained at the sub-station.
The locker room was also the same room where they stored bio-hazard waste, rape kits, and evidence, along with weights.
Rozema said the proposal for a new facility called for a brand new 45,000 square foot facility that was estimated to cost about $15 Million. The money would be raised from a potential sales tax increase of a quarter cent to a half cent, effective only until the building was paid off, which could be within five or ten years.
"Just as an example, on a quarter of a cent if you're spending $100 it's going to cost you an extra 25-cents. The impact isn't going to be felt on a day to day basis," said Rozema.
The department planned to hold open houses so community members could check out what officers were working with.
"If the residents really believe it's too much of a price to pay then the answer I think is we continue to do business the way we have, and provide service the best way we can," said Rozema.
The open house forums will be held on October 13th and November 13th at 6 PM at the Marana Operations Center located at 5100 W. Ina Road. It will feature a presentation by Chief Rozema and a tour of the facility.
Police are also going to highlight concerns with overall security for the facility, no armory for weapons storage, no locker rooms or showers, no exercise facility, no training room, no separate holding areas for juveniles, no DUI processing area, lack of meeting space, insufficient room for a traffic unit, and lack of secure/appropriate storage for public records.
Public hearings are set to take place on this time at the council meeting on November 18th and December 2nd at 7 PM at the Marana Municipal Complex located at 11555 W. Civic Center Drive.
Police are willing to do presentations for groups that are interested in learning more about this proposal. Anyone interested in hosting a presentation can call (520) 382-2000.