The Effingham Police Department has been in it’s current location on E. Section Street in downtown Effingham for at least four decades. During that time, the department has continuously expanded in personnel, archived evidence, and law enforcement equipment leading to problems.
“It’s the commingling of the staff,” said Effingham Police Chief Mike Schutzbach, “and the availability of useful storage space, and space in general.”
Commingling is problem from a legal standpoint because offenders, staff, officers recording confidential information, and the public shouldn’t mix. However, Chief Schutzbach says that’s just how things are in the station due to space issues. For example, from the booking area it’s possible to see into an interrogation room, the lobby space where the public goes to report crimes, and into a few offices.
“Everything’s commingled because we’re all right on top of each other. There’s really no place to go to have privacy.” Chief Schutzbach said.
The lack of privacy is especially problematic when it comes juvenile in custody. By law, while a juvenile is in police custody they are not supposed to be seen or heard by any adults other than officers.
Another problem in the facility is simply a lack of storage space. Effingham Police Sergeant Jason McFarland pointed out that for many cases, evidence must be kept on file permanently, including large items like furniture. Eventually, space dwindles.
Additionally, the amount of technology required to solve modern crimes continues to increase. Before methamphetamine was a major issue, police didn’t need oxygen masks and hazmat suits.
Plans are underway for the construction of new police station. The new building will be on the same site, but will feature a prominent public entrance on Third Street and better organization to eliminate some of the problems with commingling in the current building. The Effingham City Council recently approved a resolution accepting a needs assessment study conducted by FGM Architects, based in Oak Brook, Illinois. Effingham City Administrator Jim Arndt said that the next step is for the city council to approve a design agreement with FGM Architects. If that’s passed in September, the 12-14 month construction of the new station could begin in 2018. The cost of the new facility is the ballpark of 8 million to 9.8 million dollars.