After a year and a half of construction, the city of Brentwood has completed its largest capital project in city history: the new Brentwood Police Department headquarters on Heritage Way.

City officials held a grand opening for the new facility April 29.

“Brentwood loves their police,” Mayor Rhea Little said. “This headquarters will provide many amenities that will lead to a better-trained police force, and it will be a vital tool in continuing to provide safety and security to those who live and work in Brentwood.”

The $29 million project, which is funded through the city’s capital improvement program, features more than 56,000 square feet of space, a far cry from the department’s existing offices at Brentwood City Hall. The department is expected to move employees to the new space by June 1, according to the city.

The new space features more than staff offices, however; the two-story building includes an emergency call center, multiple training areas, crime laboratories, a public records room and a municipal courtroom.

“It’s the biggest project in the history of Brentwood from a financial perspective,” Brentwood Police Chief Jeff Hughes said. “It is going to put us on the map in regard to having a facility that is state of the art that will allow us to serve the citizens of Brentwood more efficiently and hopefully more effectively.”

Growing needs

From the department’s founding in 1971, the number of officers on staff has grown exponentially, according to the city. Fifty years ago, the department had three officers and a chief of police, Howard Buttrey, who retired in 2000. Later the department was served by former Chief Ricky Watson.

“Chief Buttrey started this department in 1971 with a budget of $40,000,” Watson said. “We’ve come a long way from there.”

Since that time, officials said the city’s needs have changed. The city’s population has grown from just over 3,700 in 1970 to over 42,000 in 2019, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The city itself has also grown, adding new roadways and services to help support the increasing population.

Today, the Brentwood Police Department has more than 60 officers and nearly 20 civilian staff members, according to the city.

“It took a lot of hard work and vision to get us to where we are today,” City Manager Kirk Bednar said.

When officers and staff move into the building this summer, it will be the fifth time the department has moved in its history, according to the city. Prior to moving to its existing space in Brentwood City Hall in 1987, the department had offices on Franklin Road before moving to Harpeth Drive and, later, Wilson Pike.

Hughes said the new building will not only house the department, but also include space for future growth.

“We built this to service the city for decades moving forward,” Hughes said. “There is future development space that is not currently going to be occupied, and that was intended.”

The new facility features a new gym and training rooms for officers to complete ongoing training, including an in-house firing range. Previously, training would be conducted at county facilities, which meant the department would compete with other municipalities for appointment times.

“We have always put a high emphasis on training in Brentwood, and I know that’s not the case everywhere, but it’s important to us,” he said.

Another training room will feature VirTra, a virtual use-of-force program that runs simulations to help officers work on judgment skills in real time.

“With the simulation room, it gives you that ability to train officers on de-escalation techniques and to train them on their communication skills,” he said. “That is so important because it allows you to train on decision-making and the emphasis is on de-escalating those scenarios, which might otherwise result in a use of force.”

Community focus

Hughes said he hopes the new facility will be a better resource for not just the department, but for the community. In addition to police amenities, the new headquarters also features an ambulance bay to be staffed by Williamson County by the end of the year, giving emergency medical services more access to the area, an advantage the police department will also have, Hughes said.

“It puts us in the geographical center of the city, which will give us an opportunity to respond more quickly to every area of the city as opposed to where we are now on the furthest northern part of the city,” Hughes said.

The new building will also pay homage to the department’s past, Hughes said. One late addition to the project was the creation of the Police Memorial Plaza, which features a bronze lion statue commissioned by local artist Cindy Billingsly as well as walls with the names of retired and fallen officers, including former officer Destin Legieza, who was killed in a drunk driving accident while on duty last June.

“This memorial wall only has one name on it, and we pray it never has any more names,” Little said.

Additionally, the headquarters’ municipal courtroom will double as a community room, where the department can meet with residents and host events and meetings, which Hughes said he hopes helps facilitate more interaction between the department and the public. The department intends to expand its citizens police academy and neighborhood watch programs, he said.

“We have historically had a very good working relationship with the citizens in our community, and we value that,” Hughes said. “We wanted to expand that because we never really had the facilities to invite the public to engage with us. I know this will give us the ability to do that much more effectively.”