Justice center opens tomorrow | PostIndependent.com

Justice center opens tomorrow

Heidi Rice
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

RIFLE, Colorado ” After four years of discussion, two years of planning and one year of construction, the new joint city of Rifle/ Garfield County Justice Center in Rifle will officially be opened as of Monday.

Employees of the Rifle Police Department and the Rifle Municipal Court, were busy this past week, moving into their new building, which sits on the south side of East 18th Street. Across the street on the north side, Garfield County employees have been in their building since early September.

After years of talking about the building, Rifle Police Chief Daryl Meisner says he’s glad that it’s finished and his staff is excited to move into their new home. The new building is 16,000 square feet versus the department’s old quarters at Rifle City Hall at 5,000 square feet.

Meisner was instrumental in working with architects on the building and ensuring that it was cost effective, energy efficient and prepared for future needs.

The new municipal court room is furnished with recycled benches from the old courthouse ” although you’d never know it with the their new cherry wood stain. The refurbished benches saved the city about $17,000, according to Meisner. The courtroom seats six jurors and is wired to accommodate high tech computer technology and big-screen TV’s that might be needed in the future.

“We tried to plan for current and future technology,” Meisner said. “The big screen TV’s would allow for powerpoint presentations by the attorneys. One of the things we tried to do (when designing the building) was plan for technology.”

Along with planning for technology, the building was also designed to be energy efficient, with insulated windows and natural lighting.

“The whole building is energy efficient and we tried to keep everything as reasonable as possible,” Meisner said.

A large reception area greets visitors and the building hosts a number of rooms and areas it never had before.

There’s a break room for the staff, that includes a stove, refrigerator and microwave; men’s and women’s locker rooms equipped with special lockers to accommodate police equipment and a fitness area that officers can utilize before or after their shifts.

“We encourage our officers to stay in shape, because in this job, you have to be in shape,” Meisner said. Other new features in the building include evidence lockers and a processing room; a storage room for police equipment and supplies and six work stations for patrol officers to file reports along with offices for patrol sergeants.

‘There’s also a room for a shift command officer, but we don’t have one yet,” Meisner said. “That’s going to be an expansion.”

Holding cells include a sparse juvenile holding cell, which must be separate ” by sight and sound ” from the adult cells, Meisner said. The cell has a window in which police personnel can monitor the inmates.

“It’s a staff secured room and according to state statute, it can’t be a locked room,” Meisner said.

The adult holding cells are also sparse ” with stark white cement blocks and heavy, stainless steel latrines, wash sinks and heavy metal doors.

There are two interview rooms, complete with cameras, microphones and video equipment ” a “hard” interview room for suspects and a more inviting “soft” interview room for those who are victims or witnesses in a case.

There is also a special room that contains an intoxilyzer machine, which measures a suspect’s blood alcohol content in compliance with state codes. “It has its own electrical unit and its own ventilator because it’s using scientific equipment from the Colorado Department of Health,” Meisner said.

There are also separate entrances for city staff, the general public and those being booked in as prisoners.

While the current Rifle Police Department staff consists of 19 police officers and four support staff, future plans include additions in staff with offices for additional detectives, a shift command officer, an assistant police chief and more patrol officers.

The Garfield County building across the street, which opened on Sept. 8, now houses a branch of the county court, district attorney’s office and the probation department.

The county building is approximately 15,000 square feet versus the 4,000 square of its old location.

One of the newest features of the new county building is a security system at the entrance of the building that looks similar to an airport security checkpoint.

“We didn’t have it in the old building, but it’s the times,” said Randy Withee, Garfield County engineer. “The judges want these.”

Total construction costs of the entire Justice Center project totaled $7.9 million, with the city paying $4.1 million and the county paying $3.8 million, according to Withee.

The Department of Local Affairs also contributed funding.

With the populations between Rifle and Glenwood Springs so close these days ” both around 8,500 ” it seemed natural that they join hands in the venture ” something that leaders in both communities are proud of.

“To have the Justice Center as a stand alone is indicative of the growth our community is experiencing,” said Rifle Mayor Keith Lambert. “And the working relationship we’ve had with the county, DOLA and grants from Williams, Antero and EnCana certainly recognizes that Rifle is the epicenter of a lot of this growth.”

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