Changes coming for visitors to police station as construction begins on dispatch center relocation

Temporary dispatch center during construction.

Walk-in services at the Piedmont Police Department will be temporarily limited beginning in June, as the Police Station is reconfigured to accommodate construction for the Dispatch Center Relocation project. With the reception area under construction, visitor accommodations similar to those used during COVID-19 will be put in place, with commonly requested forms and a phone to connect with staff available outside the building.

The project, which is intended to improve 9-1-1 response capabilities, will relocate the dispatch center into the space that currently jointly serves as the City’s Emergency Operations Center and the Police Department’s conference and interview room.

Visible construction work will begin in June, but behind-the-scenes preparations have been underway for months as Police and Public Works staff reconfigure the Police Station to accommodate a 32% reduction in workspace. Staff have:

  • Vacated existing workspace that will become part of the new dispatch center;
  • Re-wired the facility to temporarily relocate dispatcher workstations into a room formerly used for evidence processing, officer report writing, and briefings;
  • Removed kiosks for sharps and expired medication drop-off from the reception area.

Kiosks will return after construction is complete.

The impacts are significant for Piedmont Police, who are already working out of a space 40-50% smaller than those of similarly sized agencies in the East Bay. During construction, some Police Department staff work will relocate to 801 Magnolia, in an office that currently serves as a flex space available to all City staff and as a storage and staging area during some Piedmont Center for the Arts events.

Police Chief Jeremy Bowers shared his appreciation to residents for their patience and support, saying “As the Police Department prepares for the Dispatch Center upgrade, we are mindful of the disruption the construction will cause to our working environment and to visitors. As we work to maintain uninterrupted high-quality public safety services, I am grateful to the community and especially to our valued partners at the Piedmont Center for the Arts for their support and understanding.”

Construction is expected to last 10 months.

Project will improve 9-1-1 response capabilities
Renovation of the 9-1-1 dispatch center was identified by the City Council as the highest priority and best use for American Rescue Plan Act funding in October 2021.

Dispatch functions as the nerve center for the Piedmont community’s access to public safety services, fielding over 13,000 calls annually for the Police and Fire Departments. The existing space is severely undersized, unable to accommodate modern technologies, and located in an area that has not been seismically retrofitted, posing risk to continued operations in a catastrophic event.

Design work for the relocated dispatch center began in 2022, and the City Council awarded a $1.8 million construction contract for the project in March of this year.

Improved dispatch capabilities will begin immediately once the project is underway. The temporary facility is configured with large displays that allow dispatchers to simultaneously monitor information flowing from 48 Automated Licensed Plate Readers and public safety cameras at 6 locations throughout Piedmont. Under current conditions, dispatchers must continuously switch back and forth between windows on their desktop because the existing space is not large enough to accommodate multiple mounted displays.

The workload for dispatch staff has increased significantly over the last decade and will continue to trend upward with the implementation of next generation 9-1-1 capabilities. Concurrent with the physical space improvements, the City is augmenting dispatch staffing for the first time since 1978 – one new dispatcher position was added in the FY23-24 budget and a second new position will be added next year. These staffing increases are made possible by the March 2024 passage of Measure F.

The Police Department will share additional details on construction procedures for walk-in visitors to the Police Department in the coming weeks.

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