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War on Police: Is This the Time to Build New Police Station Using Temporary Headquarters During Construction?

Wed July 13 2016 9:15 am
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Should Arlington Heights Build New Police Headquarters Next to Railroad Tracks?
The Village of Arlington Heights wants to build a new police headquarters and has approved an ordinance for the issue of $32.9 million in bonds for the purpose of financing the construction of a new Police Station, which is anticipated to be built sometime in 2017.

Twenty-nine bids were submitted for the bond sale which started at 3 percent and dropped to 2.93 percent by KeyBanc, which will be paid over the 20-year life of the bonds.

The Board chose to go with a 2-story building of 70,500 square-feet, a basement, and a 10,000-square-foot garage for police vehicles. The Village has budgeted $27.9 million for construction of the new Police Station. The construction estimate costs of the facility do not include costs pertaining to furnishings, contingency costs and costs associated with the temporary relocation of the Police Department, and the cost associated with moving the police department twice.

Since the Village of Arlington Heights has decided to locate the new headquarters on the same site as the existing headquarters, the police department will need to move to a temporary, less secure location; and then move again back into the new headquarters.

The decision raises several concerns for the safety and protection of police officers, and for the safety and protection of residents of Arlington Heights. Arlington Heights police officers sometimes use the nickname “The Fort” to describe police headquarters, but it is a nickname that has some meaning behind it.

When a government has built a “fort” it has traditionally been built in a strategic location that provides optimal protection and uses natural surroundings as an advantage to provide watch from enemies and provide protection for citizens.


Using the existing police headquarters site for a new police headquarters involves several disadvantages — many that are not mentioned in the Police Station Study …

The cost to move the police department TWICE is unknown.

The cost or even concern for securing a temporary police headquarters is not mentioned.

The importance of finding a temporary facility that is centrally located for the Village of Arlington Heights is not mentioned, but the fact that the responsibility for selection of the site is referred and assigned to the Community Development Department is mentioned.

The prudence of rebuilding the police station next to railroad tracks is not mentioned in the study. A source that wants to remain anonymous told The Cardinal that other architectural firms advise against building a police station next to railroad tracks.

Is Temporary Lax Security in a Temporary Facility Tolerable?
After the knowledge of an attack on Dallas Police Department and considering the construction of a new facility, do we really want to temporarily house the police department in a temporary commercial warehouse or temporary office space?

What kind of lack of security for our police officers is tolerable in a temporary facility for the duration of the construction of the new police headquarters?

What is the possibility of bad actors being attracted to Arlington Heights with knowledge of the weaknesses of a makeshift police headquarters for a prolonged period?

What temporary facility could possibly be located where police would have good access to the most locations in the Village of Arlington Heights?

Is it tolerable to temporarily locate a police headquarters where police do not have good access to certain locations in Arlington Heights?

Most large warehouses and large commercial office spaces are located in the far north or far south ends of the Village of Arlington Heights — locations that are not acceptable because they are not centrally located. Certainly the Village Board has handed a very difficult temporary logistics problem to police administrators. Police will be hard-pressed to find any location for the temporary headquarters that will provide optimal access to all areas of Arlington Heights.

When police departments and local governments choose a site location for a police headquarters, they look for …

• the best access to any direction in a city,

• access to major thoroughfares with dual access in and out of facility,

• avoidance of proximity to railroad tracks, and

• avoidance of next-door proximity to school zones.

Bad Permanent Choice
The choice for the permanent location of the Arlington Heights Police Department Headquarters at Arlington Heights Road and Sigwalt Street also has several disadvantages.

First, the proposed headquarters is located near railroad tracks. A train accident or derailment with a hazmat incident could cause the need to evacuate police headquarters, and functionally decapitate the police department. Even a minor railroad hazmat incident could cause the need to evacuate the police headquarters and jail prisoners in an “abundance of caution” response. Hazmat responses from toxic chemical spills, toxic gas leaks, or burning railroad tankers require initial evacuations of 150 feet in all directions, and can involve evacuations of up to one-half mile in all directions.

Second, the choice of the location could attract terrorists to choose Arlington Heights for an act of terror because of the vulnerability of the police headquarters near the railroad tracks. An act of terror could be carried out to deliberately block access to the north side of the Village of Arlington Heights with a train accident, or could be so severe that it would cause evacuation and disabling of the function of the new police headquarters.

Third, the police headquarters building could be damaged and a large number of police vehicles and assets could be damaged or destroyed by a train accident with fire on the nearby railroad tracks.

Fourth, the proposed police headquarters is located south of the railroad tracks, while the majority of the residential population in Arlington Heights is on the north side of town. Again, blockage by the railroad could hinder responses on the north side of town.

Fifth, the location of the proposed police headquarters on the existing site south of the railroad tracks does not provide the best access to Route 53 for quick access to the far northern parts of town.

Train wreck, derailment fire in Lynchburg, Virginia April 30, 2014. Notice the distance that fire vehicles are positioned from the train fire.

Possible Ideal Location
A site at 1120 North Arlington Heights Road, where a vacant medical professional building exists, provides the best access for all parts of the Village of Arlington Heights.

The 1120 location would provide better access to Route 53 for responses to areas of northern area Arlington Heights, especially as far north as Lake Cook Road.

The 1120 location is more centrally located in Arlington Heights with more optimal access to all points in Arlington Heights.

The location near Arlington Heights Road and Oakton Street — with less traffic congestion compared to Arlington Heights Road and Sigwalt and the railroad tracks — could provide better functional dual access in and out of either Arlington Heights Road or Oakton Street. With minor property adjustments to the commercial property to the south or by acquisition of the commercial property to the south access of police headquarters. Neither Arlington Heights Road nor Oakton Street would be hindered by railroad tracks or the associated traffic backed up at railroad crossings.

The building design at 1120 North Arlington Heights Road could possibly accommodate about 30,000 to 32,000 square feet per floor.

The 1120 location would be key to developing a Public Safety Campus with the Police Headquarters right next door to the Fire Department Headquarters. The fire department parking lot could be absorbed by the Police Headquarters building and parking garage — resulting in a wider frontage for the Police Headquarters Building and Parking Garage, and allowing parking in the garage for firefighters and fire department business. While the Police Station Study reports “no physical connection with (the Fire Department) is necessary,” a public safety campus environment would facilitate the increasing demand for training in anti-terrorism, bomb and arson, hostage-barricade incidents, other police- and fire-coordinated incidents, and general meetings of fire and police administrative staff.

The 1120 location would eliminate the requirement of relocation of police headquarters into a temporary, less secure police headquarters building during construction.

The decision to build at the 1120 location would eliminate a costly double physical move by the police department.

The 1120 North Arlington Heights Road location would be outside the one-half mile radius hazmat evacuation zone with a distance of about 3,800 feet to the nearest railroad tracks.


1120 N Arlington Heights Road
Medical Building at 1120 North Arlington Heights Road next to Arlington Heights Fire Department Headquarters.

See also …
The Cardinal What If a “Bomb Train” Derailed at the Railroad Bridge at Northwest Highway and Davis St, Arlington Heights?

The Cardinal Stalled Freight Train at Metra Train Station Reveals a Common, Highly Toxic Hazardous Material in White Tanker Car

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