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City: New police and jail facility a necessity

LAWTON, Okla._ City officials in Lawton say there is a glaring need for a new police department and city jail.

Officers say they've outlived their current building and are cramped for space.

The city is now asking taxpayers for $30 million to fix the problems. On top of space concerns, there are plumbing problems, electrical issues, and the city jail is at near capacity on a consistent basis.

The Lawton Police Department was built in 1964 and is now bursting at the seams. With more than 180 officers on the force, Assistant Police Chief James Apple says storage closets have turned into office space and the former municipal court is now the detective division.

“We have taken every available space and repurposed it for our modern day use,” says Apple.

Boxes of seized narcotics and other evidence fill two large rooms floor to ceiling.

Large commercial bins have been purchased that sit outside the police station to house police records.

“We are maxed out on storage,” says Apple.

Getting a new building is a no-brainer to the chief.

“This is not something we want and would like to have; this is something we need,” says Chief James Smith.

They are also dealing with a leaky roof, old cast-iron plumbing and electrical issues. The current building is not wired for modern technology.

“We are continually spending money to repair those issues,” says Smith.

The city says that money would be better spent on an investment into a new police station and jail facility.

The jail is yet another problem the department is tackling. Inmates clog up toilets which run down the walls where officers work. There is also an overcrowding issue. In the new facility, if approved, they hope to raise the 70 inmate capacity to 150 inmates.

Jail employees are forced to work in hot conditions, because portable air conditioners are what replaced the old system.

“The conditions that they work out of everyday are deplorable,” says Jay Burk, Ward 4 councilman.

This $30 million is part of the larger $100 million the city will receive if the 2015 Capital Improvement Project is approved in an August 26 election. Councilman Burk says, if approved, construction on the new public safety facility will begin immediately.


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