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Police and Courts begin move into new Kirkland Justice Center
The grand opening of the Kirkland Public Safety Building (KPSB) this Saturday will present the Kirkland Police Department (KPD) with a situation it hasn’t faced in a long time; more space than they need.
Also known as the Kirkland Justice Center, Kirkland residents are invited to tour the building at 11750 NE 118th St. in the Totem Lake Neighborhood on Saturday from 1-4 p.m. The KPSB will house both the police department and the municipal court, which is currently located across the street. The transition to the KPSB is seen by both City Hall and KPD officials as a necessary move that reflects the large population growth Kirkland underwent in recent years due to annexation.
KPD Cpt. Mike Ursino said space became a major issue after the city annexed Finn Hill, North Juanita and Kingsgate in 2011, which added 30,000 more residents to the city. As a result, the department hired roughly 40 more officers and support staff, adding more personnel to its 15,000 square feet of space in City Hall. With the KPSB, they have 82,000 square feet out of the building’s 102,000, which gives them extra room if the need arises for expansion at a future date.
Although Ursino described himself as a “baby” on the project, as it started under a different captain, he said he spent every day at the site during the remodeling process.
“Translating from paper to real can be hard,” he said. “I wanted to make sure stuff got done right.”
The building includes a jail of 55 beds for misdemeanors, eliminating the need to transport suspects to the King County Jail. The building also has a lead-free, 10-bay firing range that enables officers to practice shooting from vehicles. Until now, officers have had to drive to other firing ranges in order to get certified. According to city documents, from 2010 to 2012, KPD spent a total of $46,279 in firing range rental fees. The firing range cost $1.3 million and required additional funding from surplus sales tax revenue.
The KPSB also includes a weight room, a maintenance facility for police vehicles and a room to hold all 30,000 pieces of evidence the KPD currently has, which will be stored on an old Costco racking system.
The other 18,000 square feet of the building contains two large courts and one smaller court. Overall, the layout of the building is designed so that suspects can be processed and detained in two-hour holding cells, held in a jail cell for misdemeanors, interrogated and brought to court under the same roof.
The building was formerly a Costco Home store, then later a My Home Wholesale. When the lease ended, the city purchased it from the owners and began remodeling it last year.
The total bill for the city is estimated to be $36 million.
Ursino said it would have cost more if the city had opted instead to build a new building from scratch.
“We were economically responsible without sacrificing use,” he said.
The building also includes a multi-purpose room that is designed for community members and organizations to use. Ursino said he hopes residents touring the building will be satisfied with how their tax dollars were spent.
“I want them (residents) to see a class building, state of the art, yet without being elaborate,” he said. “We did an awesome job. We were conscious of the money we were spending.”
The police department plans to begin moving equipment and staff over to the building in June. If all goes as planned, Ursino said, everything will be moved by August or late fall.
In advance of the grand opening, the city has brought in a restored 1948 Ford police car they found in San Diego, purchased through donations. The Ford is similar to the one used by the KPD during the same time period.
Triplett said the transition will allow the city to consolidate several departments into City Hall and sell the vacant building.