By Jason A. Smith
Law enforcement officers in Stockbridge will soon have more room in which to perform their duties, as a result of a construction project for the Henry County Police Department.
The county is in the midst of plans to build an 11,000-square-foot police precinct, covering two acres on Burke Street. Approximately $3 million has been earmarked for the project, according to County Manager Rob Magnaghi.
The new facility will stand across from the department's existing structure near the Merle Manders Conference Center.
Magnaghi has been working for two years on the project, with government leaders in Stockbridge, including Mayor R.G. Kelley and City Manager Ted Strickland. The city owns the property on which the new structure will be located.
Magnaghi said the needs of the police department have outgrown its existing 2,500-square-foot precinct in the city. "The old North Precinct is way too small [for] the different shifts for the North Precinct," said Magnaghi. "They don't even have a room big enough for the officers to have a briefing. It's severely inadequate, even for current operations."
Fifty-five officers are now assigned to the North Precinct, with 15-25 people working per shift, he added.
According to Mayor Kelley, city and county officials are in the process of finalizing plans for the Stockbridge project, and have not yet selected a construction firm to oversee the effort. "We're waiting to get started," said Kelley.
The mayor added that police officers who work in the city are "busting at the seams," in anticipation of the building's completion.
"It will make their work conditions a heck of a lot better," added Kelley. "It will also help their morale, for them to have better facilities to do what they need to do."
Magnaghi said creating a new facility will benefit local residents who come to the new office, by providing them with more space to meet with officers. He said the construction project leaves open the possibility for more additions in the future.
"We may pour foundations that will allow the precinct to be expanded," he said.
Both the Henry Police Department and the Henry County Fire Department have their headquarters at 108 S. Zack Hinton Pkwy., in McDonough. Both moved to the facility last year.
Henry Police also maintain an office at Tanger Outlet in Locust Grove.
Magnaghi said he hopes the county will be able to develop precincts in other areas of the county in the coming years. Groundbreaking for the precinct is expected to be held in the summer.