The St. Petersburg Police opened a new $78.5 million headquarters on Friday that will modernize the force and enhance training for its officers.
The new facility took 23 months to build and can accommodate 800 sworn officers, civilian employees and volunteers. It's located across First Avenue N. from the old headquarters, which was built in the 1950s.
The new building was constructed to withstand a Category 5 hurricane and serve as an emergency operations center for the city.
“Last year when the storm came through we had officers sleeping all over the police department,” said Chief of Police Anthony Holloway. “This building can withstand 195 mph plus it’s self sufficient. We have a place now where the officers can bunk, we have showers in here, we have three generators outside. Hopefully we’ll never have to worry about that category five hurricane, but if it does come to our city, we’re ready.”
The new station will offer more opportunities for in-house training with a mat room for handcuffing practice and ground-fighting techniques.
“Everything we can do to make sure our men and women are the best trained as possible does two things: it makes them safer and it makes our community safer,” said St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman.
With several departments housed in the same building, police expect to respond to emergencies at a more efficient rate.
The facility was largely funded by Penny For Pinellas, which is a 1 percent tax in Pinellas County that serves as the area's primary source for government projects.
Other components include a 12,000-square-foot evidence storage room, 106 flat screen monitors for training and tracking emergencies, a gym for officer use and 1,450 solar panels on the roof of the garage.