Work is now underway on Brentwood’s new police headquarters, a $29 million project that will allow the city’s police department to have increased security, space for the community and enough room for the entire police force to be housed in one space. The police department is expected to relocate from offices on opposite ends of City Hall to a new 56,000-square-foot site on Heritage Way.
“We’ve just outgrown this building,” Police Chief Jeff Hughes said. “Along the way, we’ve become very dysfunctional from an efficiency standpoint because we’re spread out all over the building.”
The new facility will feature departmental offices, an emergency call center, training rooms, an indoor firearms range, public records and a community room.
The department is expected to move into the facility in early 2021, the 50th anniversary of the Brentwood Police Department.
The two-story building was designed by Nashville-based firm The Architect Workshop and will be constructed by The Parent Company, which is based in Brentwood.
While the city purchased the land in the late ’90s, City Manager Kirk Bednar said planning for the new headquarters began a few years ago after talks with city staff and officers about the future of the department. In addition to needing more space, Hughes said the demographics of the force have changed over the years, and with more women on the force than ever before, the department needed more locker room space than was available at City Hall.
“I think everybody recognized that from a space standpoint, we couldn’t continue on the way we were for the next 20 years,” Bednar said.
Increasing security, decreasing response times
In addition to giving police officers more room and resources, Hughes said the new facility will also increase security measures not available at City Hall.
“Because it was built as an office building, there were never any considerations for [City Hall] being a secure facility or a hardened facility,” Hughes said. “With what you see happening in society today, with people attacking the police, and even at police headquarters, we have really limited protection here, to our personnel and to our equipment and particularly our fleet.”
Hughes said the new facility will feature security measures, such as having a reception area with bulletproof windows, to help ensure the safety of the officers working there.
Additionally, having police business away from City Hall will help the city avoid bringing arrested individuals through City Hall areas. Bednar said while the city does not have a jail or holding cells, those arrested in Brentwood are currently brought through the building for processing.
“It’s a security issue for the rest of our city employees,” Bednar said. “Anybody [who is] arrested … they’re usually brought here for processing and certainly interviews. And so when that happens, they’re just paraded through general city offices to get from one side of the building to the other.”
The new building will feature a processing area located on a separate floor on the opposite end of the building from the records department and lobby, where residents and members of the public will be allowed in.
Hughes said the new headquarters’ location was also a consideration for the city, as having the department located on the west side of the city can sometimes slow response times, and the new location will have better access to major thoroughfares, such as I-65, Concord Road and Wilson Pike.
“At certain times of the day, Maryland Farms can be a parking lot, and even though we’ve got lights and sirens, we have to take into consideration response times,” he said. “It just makes sense that we are geographically located to better serve the citizens of Brentwood and every area of the city and not just the northern area of the city.”
Additional city, county resources
Because Brentwood is nearing build-out, Bednar said growth in other areas of Williamson County did not factor largely into planning for the new headquarters. However, the new facility will feature an fully-staffed ambulance bay to be used by Williamson County EMS.
The new bay will also allow the county to have better access to I-65.
Williamson County Public Safety Director Bill Jorgensen said the county is continually looking at area statistics to find where new units should be placed.
“We are always looking for opportunities to work with our city partners to provide services together where we can,” Jorgensen said. “The city of Brentwood graciously brought this opportunity to us knowing that it would strengthen the public safety response system across Williamson County.”
The new facility will also allow Brentwood’s police force to have its own firearms range, meaning officers will no longer have to rely on the county’s outdoor range, which is already used by other officers in the area and can be difficult to access.
“We’re one of several organizations that schedule time on that range, [and] we usually get the last pick whatsoever, and we’ve got to get 67 officers through training every year,” Hughes said. “It’s become very problematic and will continue to get worse as time goes on, as we grow and as the county grows.”
Hughes said the new range will allow Brentwood officers to have more training time than on the county range and will allow officers to complete more than the basic requirements required for all police officers.
“Hopefully, that in turn, will help us be able to deliver better services to the community,” he said.
While much of the $29 million project will be funded through money saved in the city’s capital projects fund and a bond issuance approved by the city earlier this year, Hughes said $100,000 in funding came from Bill Akin, a longtime Brentwood resident who donated funds specifically for the headquarters.
“It’s really touching; it’s a little overwhelming that somebody would contribute that kind of funding to this type of project out of their own personal account,” Hughes said.
In addition to the support already shown by the community for the project, Hughes said the new headquarters will also feature a community room for the public to come visit and get to know local officers.
“We want the public to feel this is their building and continue building on that partnership with the citizens,” Hughes said. “The police and the community have to work together, and I think we have a very good relationship with our citizenry. I think we have the confidence and trust of our citizenry, and we want to continue to promote and build on those relationships in this new facility.”