The city plans to rip out the former men's jail cells and turn the unused space into a detective office, providing Det. Dave Talbert with more room for interviews and evidence processing.
"Right now, Det. Talbert has no room," Salem Police Chief J.T. Panezott said.
City Council approved an ordinance Tuesday authorizing the appropriation of $7,000 within capital improvements, to be combined with $7,000 from the police department's Drug Enforcement Administration funds to cover the estimated $14,000 cost for the project.
The room, estimated at 12 feet by 24 feet, contains four jail cells that haven't been used since 2003, which the chief considers wasted space that can be repurposed. He explained that Talbert is working four major cases at the moment and has no room to work, which sometimes involves spreading out files and evidence.
"It's going to make his job easier. He's going to be more effective at his job," Panezott said.
He's also a one-man division at the moment and that's something else the chief would like to change in the future, to get back to having two detectives. The department last had two detectives in 2008. The new detective office will include room to grow.
Plans call for the steel jail cells to be removed piece by piece and sold for scrap, which city Service/Safety Director Ken Kenst said he was told could fetch as much as $3,000 to $4,000 that will be deposited back into the capital improvements fund. He contacted Stitle Construction in Salem, which had provided the estimate, and work could begin in the next week or so.
Panezott said new flooring will be installed, along with a wall and dropped ceiling. They'll use furniture they already have or can beg from somewhere else to furnish the office.
"We're doing this as cheap as possible," he said.
Talbert's current office will be turned into a records room. Panezott said he's been working on getting paperwork better organized and a room for records will help with that.
The female jail cells had already been removed several years ago, with the space turned into the dispatch center.
Mary Ann Greier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org