By Ed Brock
Clayton County Police Detective Mike Harris had his hands full of a lot of evidence on Monday.
So did some of his fellow officers as they moved guns, televisions, computers, bicycles and more into the new Clayton County police headquarters and 911 Emergency Operations Center.
The building isn't quite finished yet and the department may not be fully moved in until the end of April, but Harris has already seen his office.
"It's nice. Really nice," Harris said. "There's a lot more room."
In fact, Police Capt. Jeff Turner said he thinks each division of the department will have two to three times more space in the $19 million, 90,000-square-foot building on the corner of McDonough Street and Ga. Highway 138. And each section will now be in one building rather than spread out between the old headquarters building, built in the early 1970s, and the Clayton R. Christopher emergency operations center next door.
Harris' office and the rest of the detectives in the department's criminal investigation division have been crammed into the EOC building along with the county's 911 center.
While the department will have most of its stored evidence moved into the building this week, it will be early April before the rest of the department can begin moving in, Turner said.
"The builders are going through making some minor repairs and modifications," Turner said.
The move will have to be done in stages, Police Chief Darrell Partain said, because the phones for each section must be shut down in the old building before being turned on in the new building. That way each section keeps the same phone numbers, Partain said.
Partain's office will be at the front of the building on the second floor overlooking the rotunda with a glass dome through which the public will enter the building. The building includes a media room for press conferences, several kitchens, smoking balconies and a "mud room" where officers who have been involved in operations literally in the field can come in and clean up.
Slaterpaull Architects designed the building and The Facility Group of Smyrna handled the construction, both under the supervision of Lee Design and Management.
The old headquarters building will be torn down to make way for a new parking space but the EOC building will remain. Also, the department's aviation unit will remain in its current building, a hangar directly behind the new building.
"It's been long anticipated for us to be able to retire the structure we've been in since 1971 and move into this building that's far more technically advanced than we could ever ask for," Partain said.