Police station not up to standards

Denver Collins

The facility, which was built in the 1920s, has had maintenance problems for years.

City mulls how to fix facility

A roof collapse in early February at the Kent police station revealed a serious problem for the Kent Police Department.

The facility, which was built in the 1920s, has had maintenance problems for years, including a leaky ceiling, which contributed to the roof collapse.

A 2008 inspection by the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction Bureau of Adult Detention found the facility to be in noncompliance with more than one-third of the minimum standards. Out of 14 Ohio Minimum Jail Standards under the facility category, the Kent police station failed to meet five. The station lacks sufficient space for prisoners, seating, natural light and interior lighting under the standards.

Kent Safety Director Bill Lillich said the best estimate for having an up-to-code police station in downtown Kent is 18-36 months.

The city has had architectural plans commissioned for two options: repairing the current facility or building a new one. However, the city has not yet decided which option it will pursue.

“Both are expensive, but we’re working on figuring out how to afford one or the other,” City Manager Dave Ruller said.

Ruller also said the city has been exploring building a joint facility with Kent State police and Portage County Sherrif’s Department.

“Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to get the timing to work for a combined project, so now it looks like we’ll have to pursue it on our own,” he said.

The $9 million budgeted for a new station was pulled in late 2009 because the city’s finances were “not real great,” Lillich said. Lack of funding is a large issue preventing plans for remodeling or development from going forward.

“We hope to come to a decision by mid-year,” Lillich said.

But the choice seems black-and-white to Lt. Jayme Cole, who has worked at the station for 22 years.

“It would be a physical impossibility to fix this building,” Cole said, adding the cost of bringing the building up to code would be as much, if not more than building a new station.

Cole joked about the situation, noting police officers face enough danger on the job.

“It’d be ironic if I died from having a beam fall on my head,” he said.

Contact public affairs reporter Denver Collins at [email protected].