Construction underway on new building for Southport Police Department

SOUTHPORT, Ind. -- The Southport Police Department is getting a major upgrade in 2018.

“Our current office is about 100 square feet,” said Southport Police Chief Tom Vaughn.  “We call it our roll call room and our office space.  And we have an office for the chief which is a closet, I’m not even sure how big that is (chuckles).”

The new building is about 8,100 square feet.

“We’re really excited,” Chief Vaughn said.  “This has been about a year in the works.”

Construction on the new police department started a month ago and is currently ahead of schedule.

In addition to the police, the new building will also house the mayor’s office and clerk treasurer’s office just like the old building.

New safety features were one of the big selling points of the building for the officers.

“When you come into the front of the building we have what we call a safe room,” said Chief Vaughn.  “So, if someone is running away from somebody they can go in after business hours and lock the door and there’s a 9-1-1 phone. “

Safe rooms are becoming more common in new police stations.

In-house training is another goal for Southport police so they are creating a FATS Room, also known as the Firearm Simulator Room. 

“It’s like a PlayStation.  It’ll have three walls that the video will play on and will allow the officer to go in there and train on different scenarios using a simulator gun,” said Chief Vaughn.  “The system we’re currently looking at acts like a real gun so that it gets it to the closest environment of actually being there.”

The new building will have doors that will lock electronically in case of an attack.

"As a police chief, that's one of my jobs is to make sure that everybody that visits the city is secure,” Chief Vaughn said.  “So, it's been set up for that, it has lockdown areas so that if we were to get an active shooter inside the building, we can lock them down in different areas."

Southport Police says the FATS Room will also be open to the community.

“With a lot of the police action shootings going on now, we want to bring them in and put them in those scenarios and let them see what the officer sees and the reaction time you’ll need to be able to make those decisions,” said Chief Vaughn.

One of the new rooms being added to the building will be an area for certified reserved training.  The Southport Police Department is one of two police departments in Indiana that can provide such training.

There will also be a memorial for Lt. Aaron Allan in front of the new building.

Lt.  Allan was shot and killed in the line of duty on July 27.  He is the only officer in the history of Southport Police to lose his life in the line of duty.

"We'll have the flag pole put out here, and what we're looking at doing is building four-foot-tall walls,” said Chief Vaughn.  “They'll have memorial bricks where people can buy bricks and people can put their loved one or their name or business name on it.  They're going to be about four-foot-high and five-foot-long in sections, that way if people want to come out and sit and kind of relax, you can do that out there."

Currently, the new building cost is about one million dollars and will not cause a tax increase for Southport residents.

“That was our commitment to the city,” Chief Vaughn said.  “It’s something that the mayor and the committee put together was really focused on.  We didn’t want to burden the tax payers.”

They checked out several locations and considered buying or renting a space, then finally decided to start from scratch.

“The good thing about the land that we’re building this on, the city already owns so we didn’t have to purchase that,” Chief Vaughn said.

The new building is scheduled to be completed by June of 2018.


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