Opposition to new police station remains

By Ian Gough & Joe Palmer

Irving Construction will be the contract manager for the new DeKalb Police Department station.

The decision was made at a DeKalb City Council meeting Monday. Interim DeKalb Police Chief Ron Pearson said the department hopes construction starts soon, but there is no set date for completion.

“We are moving forward with the construction, as the final steps in planning are being ironed out,” Pearson said.

Some students remain uncomfortable with the chosen location for the building. Junior communications major Farouk Olayiwola, who is a student manager at the Center for Black Studies, and others have spoken against the location at different DeKalb City Council meetings. Olayiwola said he and other members of the Black Student Union (BSU) understand the need for a new police headquarters. However, he thinks the new station’s proximity to the Center for Black Studies, and campus in general, could reduce the comfort level of students.

According to the City of DeKalb website, the new headquarters, which has a design and construction budget of $12 million, will be situated in a vacant 3.5 acre lot on the corner of West Lincoln Highway and Carroll Avenue. According to the site, all phases of construction should take about 29 months.

“University police is only three blocks away,” Olayiwola said. “Their police force is just as big as DeKalb’s and, based on what I’ve seen, I think their response time is even better. And they seem to handle situations better, too.”

Olayiwola said the Center for Black Studies is a safe haven for some students, where they can come and relax or talk to counselors. Some of these students have raised concerns regarding the new police headquarters’s location. Olayiwola said while he cannot be sure, racial issues could possibly be an underlying factor dictating the new station’s location.

Pearson said the location was chosen for many reasons, including the high call volume from campus.

“Seventy-five percent of calls are from NIU,” Pearson said. “I like that this location is midway between the city’s two underpasses.”

NIU Police Sgt. Alan Smith said areas with more security often receive more calls and that increased security is simply to keep those students safer.

That is also why the city and the police department have decided to build a new headquarters, Smith said.

Austin Quick, Student Association Senate speaker, was selected by city management to be on the new police chief’s interview panel and said the number one concern in regard to the building is safety.

“The police station is rundown,” said Quick. “There are unsecure evidence rooms and unsafe rooms to hold suspects.”

Quick said the station needs to be built to provide the force with adequate resources.

“The lot they are building it on has been there for 10 years and the police department has been planning on building there for at least five years,” Quick said.