It is time to construct a new police building

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 24, 2008

The issue: The Cecil Jackson Public Safety Building is falling down around our police officers and support staff.

Our position: The building needs to be razed and another built in its place.

People deserve to feel safe in their work environments. That means everybody, including those we believe to be the toughest of the tough – our law enforcement officers.

Email newsletter signup

Last week, it came to the attention of The Selma Times-Journal that evidence locked up in a room on the third floor of the Cecil Jackson Public Safety Building might be threatened by water that poured down the wall and puddled on the floor of that room.

The evidence room is about the only space used on the building’s third floor. The area once housed the Selma Police Department’s detective bureau, but untenable working conditions because of leaking roofs and mold and dust forced them to move downstairs.

The city has applied just so many bandages to the roof. For instance, the last repair to the public safety building’s roof came in 2006 at a cost to taxpayers of $74,989.

The following year, another construction company repaired the building’s interior for $7,285, and another $900 for more repairs several months later.

That’s the better part of $100,000 spent in two years on a building that likely needs to be razed and a new one put in its place.

Late last year, an assessment of the Selma Police Department prepared by Public Safety Consultants Inc. of Wetumpka pointed out the building is in need of significant renovation and recommended construction of a new public safety facility to house the fire department, police department, emergency medial responders and city code enforcement.

And a new building doesn’t need to cost millions of dollars.

For instance, take Valley Grande, which last October opened its public safety building. It cost $250,000, and all but $5,000 was paid for by the city.

The Alabama-Tombigbee Resource Conservation and Development Council gave the city $5,000. The rest was generated entirely by local taxes, including city sales tax.

The building holds an office for public safety director Boyd Pugh, a station for the fire department and a substation for the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department.

Certainly, Selma would need much more, but if a budding city, such as Valley Grande, can recognize its needs and those of a majority of its citizens, then why can’t Selma?

Our city police officers and the support staff need a safe place in which to work. This bandaging the roof does nothing but delay the inevitable.

The Selma City Council should take a leadership role on this project now, before someone in the police department gets hurt.