Fight for Raleigh's safety center rages on

RALEIGH The debated project was front and center at the official opening of the city's new temporary police headquarters in north Raleigh.

While at the podium on Monday, Raleigh's police chief spent a lot of time talking about the public safety center he wants built in downtown.

Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan says he doesn't mince words when it comes to how he feels about the Clarence E. Lightner Public Safety Center.

"Facilities are becoming a real issue for this growing department," Dolan said. "We've got to look to the past and learn and in the past, we weren't doing that. We were adding maybe one floor to the old city hall. Back in 1959, we added one floor to the 110 South Mcdowal Building; we have to change that pattern. That's why we're in the position we're in today."

Dolan says his department has grown to nearly 1,000 employees. Two thirds are stationed at the six regional facilities around the city and the one third that should, according to Dolan, is be housed in one building.

"The functions that are centralized like investigations, administration, recruiting, all those issues need to be downtown in a centralized facility," he said.

But for the time being, Dolan says the Six Forks Road location will work out fine. In fact, he says it's perfect.

"This building represents the future of north Raleigh for us as far as police service goes, that we'll have a north district that will be open 24-7," Dolan said. "When we move out in a couple years, then we'll have room for them to grow and that's what we're trying to do with the Cabarrus Street facility. We built room to grow."

Many say that's what the Lightner Public Safety Center was supposed to be all about -- room to grow, but at $200 million and a tax hike, or others project deferments, necessary to make it happen.

The council backed off the idea, but is currently back at square one an re-addressing the plans.

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