CANONBURG – They have been on the top floor, in the basement and even in between. But for the first time in more than a decade, Canonsburg police have a new office where everyone is on the same floor.
After being forced to move out of the station on East Water Street where officers had spent decades, operations had to be split up when the department moved to new quarters in the borough building on East Pike Street. The chief, detective and secretary moved to the second floor while the officers were in the basement of the building. The offices for the secretary and deputy police chief moved to the space in the borough building formerly occupied by Canonsburg Library just over a year ago, dividing the department over all three floors.
The new station, in the basement of the borough building, is part of a $1.3 million project to renovate the entire building, said Mayor David L. Rhome. The work is being funded through a $650,000 grant obtained through State Sen. Tim Solobay, D-Canonsbur, with the borough also obtaining a $500,000 loan to go along with the $150,000 available in borough coffers.
Police Chief R.T. Bell remembers when the police station was in the area now occupied by the office of District Judge David Mark on East Water Street. A portion of the former station is also now occupied by the Canonsburg Volunteer Fire Department.
“We had a big area we called the bullpen with five cells,” Bell recalled. “There was an area across the hall for female prisoners.”
“That building was so bad it was condemned and we had to move,” he added. That move in the mid-1990s forced the department to split up.
The move to the new station began earlier this month. Bell said the new station is much more secure.
“You have to be buzzed in just to enter the waiting area. There is a camera outside the door so the secretary can see who is there and the visitors have to pick up the telephone to identify themselves” Bell said. “Our secretary sits behind bulletproof glass. In the old offices, she was vulnerable.”
There is a separate, secure door used to bring prisoners into the building and into one of the two detention cells. The new station also has an exercise room and kitchenette, two features the officers never had in the past. Doors to the different offices automatically lock when shut and have to be opened with a key fob.
“This has been a long time coming,” Bell added. “It is something I never thought I would see in my career.”
Bell said that mayor and council realize how difficult it was to operate the department since the offices were on different floors.
“This is giving us an opportunity to bring everyone together in one place,” Rhome said. “In the long run, the department will be able to operate more efficiently and exchange all information.”