The Oakland County Sheriff’s Office is seeking to consolidate its training, dispatch, and emergency operations services due to what they describe as outdated infrastructure, security and safety concerns, and critical space constraints.
The first step is to study the possibility of such a project.
The county’s $908 million fiscal year 2021 budget, which was given approval Sept. 23 by the board of commissioners, includes $1 million in fund balance for a feasibility study that will examine the building of a new state-of-the-art, high-security facility that would house the sheriff office’s dispatch center, a regional use of force training center, the sheriff’s office operations center and the county’s 9/11 emergency operations center.
The project is included in the county’s 2021-2030 Capital Improvement Program, but only for informational purposes with no funding source identified. The 105,000-square-foot project’s estimated cost is $59.5 million, although the feasibility study will help to solidify a more accurate potential project cost.
For the first time in 16 years, Oakland County’s three-year budget did not receive a unanimous vote from the Oakland County Board of Commissioners.
In addition to the feasibility study, the board also authorized the development of a Request for Proposal (RFP) to seek out an architectural consultation firm to perform a space needs analysis and prepare a preliminary budget for construction.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard calls the project a “critical investment” that will work to better develop and advance deputies and area public safety.
“These will be critical investments in the next budget cycle to increase the preparedness and integrity of law enforcement across the county,” he said. “I am very happy the commissioners saw the value of these investments and what it will mean to all police and fire departments in the county.”
David Woodward, board chairman, said the county has never secured the experts to give county officials a “true cost” for this project. He added that the feasibility study and RFP will do just that.
“There is tremendous support for training and how to provide that broadly to other agencies,” he said. “There is also recognition that we want to support capacity and consolidation of dispatch operations. We currently don’t have the capacity to consolidate these services further. Our emergency operations center is also in need of some updates.”
Currently, the sheriff’s office training spaces are extremely outdated, in need for critical updates for better real-world training, and not conveniently co-located for any of its personnel, with many training classrooms located in multiple locations across the county.
The new training center would be a regional asset and would offer state-of-the-art training to the county’s law enforcement partners to use.
Training emphasis is placed on real-life scenario training, classroom instruction, range qualification, roll call trainings, and many other types of training programming.
Current training spaces include:
- Sheriff’s administration building
- Oakland County Jail
- Rented spaces at Oakland Community College
- A leased former school building in Brandon Township
- Oakland County International Airport and the former Summit Place Mall parking lot
- Multiple rented facilities.
As part of this new project, the county is seeking a designated space for its deputies and outside agencies to access for training for high-risk search warrants, school shooters, barricaded gunmen, and other incidents related to responding to any type of structure.
The sheriff’s office also teaches emergency vehicle operations and precision driving to other regional police agencies. A permanent drive track is needed to train deputies and outside personnel.
The Sheriff’s Operation Center (SOC) and Oakland County Emergency Operations Center (EOC) have outgrown its current space and needs upgrades to keep the site secure and functional. The current building is a cinderblock building built in the 1940s and does not meet current federal standards for withstanding severe weather situations.
This building houses both the Sheriff’s Office Emergency Communications and Operations Division and the Oakland County Homeland Security Division.
The services provided by the SOC and EOC are on full display during the most critical of emergency-type incidents including weather events, natural disasters, terrorism, and hazardous material incidents.
The SOC dispatches calls for 15 Oakland County communities as well as seven police agencies and eighteen local fire/EMS agencies. The SOC also serves as the default 9-1-1 point for all emergency calls with incomplete or unknown caller location.
As the request for dispatch services continues to grow, the building and facilities are currently at capacity with no room for growth or expansion. As technologies change, the sheriff’s office is seeking infrastructure with the ability to house ever-changing equipment and software platforms with no interruption to resident service.
County Commissioner Michael Spisz said the county’s training centers are outdated, 9-1-1 call centers cramped and emergency operations center not efficient.
“Most of these facilities were built in the mid-20’s, and we must bring them into the 21st century,” he said. “Conducting this feasibility study will provide us with the information to move forward. We must provide the facilities and tools that allow our law enforcement agencies to continue to be world class and protect all of our citizens.”
Oakland County’s economic recovery leaning on uncertain future of pandemic and additional federal aid