Council OKs architect for southside PD substation

Published on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 23:47 - Written by By Dayna Worchel dworchel@tylerpaper.com

The manager of The Diner restaurant on South Broadway Avenue in Tyler said Wednesday that he doesn’t call the police very often.

But if Alfredo Ortiz does need to make that call, he thinks that a planned Tyler police substation on the south side would be a good idea. “Sometimes it can take them a while to get out here,” he said.

John Thorne, who manages the Rusty Taco, which is very close to the proposed substation site at Cumberland Road and South Broadway, agrees with Ortiz. “I think it’s a good idea — there never seems to be enough patrols on the south side, and I know there would be a better response time,” Thorne said.

The Tyler City Council took a step closer Wednesday to making that substation a reality by approving an architect to create a design for a single story 15,000 to 20,000 square foot building on three to four acres.

The substation would cost about $3.3 million to build, which would include the $225,000 design cost, Tyler Police Chief Gary Swindle said at the meeting. Groundbreaking could happen in about six months, and the expected completion date should be in late 2015 or 2016, he said. The money will come from the city’s half-cent sales tax fund.

Tyler Assistant Police Chief Jimmy Toler presented very detailed information to the council about police response times and the costs involved for police personnel to travel from the downtown police station to south Tyler. Toler estimated that with police labor costs making up 86.4 percent of that budget, that an estimated $217,107 is spent for officers to make 253 trips each week to the south side of town and back downtown. The building will include administrative offices, interview rooms, a briefing area, locker and shower rooms and detective and patrolman areas.

City officials performed an analysis as a part of the city’s Lean Sigma Initiative and determined that the south side needed a police substation because of growth and development in that area. Adding the station also will improve officer response times for officers patrolling beats in that area of the city.

Swindle said some existing staff would be moved to the new substation. “Space can be freed up downtown for future growth,” Swindle told council members about the current police station.

Council also approved for the police department to apply and accept a federal Justice Assistance Grant for $63,956 to fund a special gang officer for one year. The department can re-apply for the grant each year, Swindle said. The officer will investigate gang crimes and compile a database of known gang members.

“Gangs are involved in some serious crimes in Tyler,” Swindle said. He added that an experienced Tyler police officer would be moved to the gang position and that an additional police officer would be hired to take the gang officer’s place.

In other news, Mayor Barbara Bass and the city council recognized the Tyler Fire Department Soccer team for its fourth consecutive Texas State Soccer championship medal. The department competed with more than 20 teams from across the state.

“Everyone knows our fire department has to remain fit, and this is a fun way to do it,” Mayor Bass said.

Members of this year’s team are: Greg Crenshaw, Steve Wieczor, Logan Luttrell, Shawn Wilson, Jason Beasley, Terence Thedford, Eric Rozell, Bruce Hill, Mason Edney, Luke Terry, Chris Mahler, Tony Gumber and Riley Alvey as volunteer full time Assistant Coach.