North Raleigh News

Wake Forest police ask for millions of dollars to keep up with growth

The police department is asking town leaders for millions of dollars over the next five years to keep the department efficient while serving Wake Forest’s growing population.

The request includes $21 million for a new police station that would become the second wing of Town Hall; $852,000 for 25 vehicles; $250,000 for a back-up communications center; and $160,000 to replace a 25-year-old surveillance van.

Police also asked for $15,000 to replace one of its K-9 unit dogs next year.

The requests are part of the town’s Capital Improvement Plan, which prioritizes major projects every five years to be funded apart from normal budget allocations.

The Wake Forest Board of Commissioners decides where and when money is distributed for capital projects.

The money would help the police department better handle an increasing number of calls for service, Police Chief Jeff Leonard said.

He said 2014 marked the second consecutive year Wake Forest officers responded to more than 1,000 traffic calls.

The department sometimes gets help from other agencies, including the Raleigh Police Department, the Wake County Sheriff’s Office and the Highway Patrol, Leonard said.

“You’ve got to have what you need for those big incidences and normal patrol,” he said.

Currently, the police department’s 83 employees, including 68 officers, are spread among four buildings in town. Leonard said the department is running out of space.

His office is at the main station on Taylor Street, where the evidence room has been expanded several times and every available space is being used.

Public Facilities Manager Mickey Rochelle submitted the request for a new police station, which would be attached to Town Hall.

“We know it’s going to come, we’re just not sure when,” Rochelle said. The request for the building has been in the capital improvement plans for years.

Leonard said much of the cost included for the new station would cover the technology needed for radios, call centers and safety precautions.

The $21 million estimate will likely change as the town gets closer to building the new station, Rochelle said.

Leonard figures it will be at least five years before the town plans and designs the station, and then several more years before it will open.

“I’m looking to be retired by the time the new building comes around,” he said.

Hankerson: 919-829-4802;

Twitter: @mechelleh

Have your say

Residents can share their thoughts on the police department’s capital requests and other budget issues at the March 17 meeting of the Wake Forest Board of Commissioners. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 301 S. Brooks St., Wake Forest. All capital improvement requests can be viewed online at www.wakeforestnc.gov/residents-finance_cip.aspx.

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