Command Q&A: Station Design in the New Millennium

Dec. 12, 2023
Village of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, Police Chief Phillip Norton spoke to OFFICER Magazine about what law enforcement agencies need to keep in mind during the planning and construction stages of a new facility.

It’s been six years since the Village of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, opened its new police headquarters. Police Chief Philip Norton, who has led the department since 2001 and also was a member of the judging panel for the 2022 Officer Station Design Awards, spoke to OFFICER Magazine about what agencies need to do during the planning and construction stages.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

What were the first steps?

We were in what was the band room of an old junior high building. The rest of the junior high building was occupied by various village offices. We had some cases as time went on that really magnified how much we needed a larger space, particularly for the larger critical cases. The first request to put some money in the budget for a space needs analysis occurred in 2006. It wasn’t until 2011 when we got our initial approval to put some money aside and conduct a space needs analysis with an architect. We vetted a number of architectural firms and chose Dewberry. We worked with them to do the space needs analysis for what a modern police department back in 2011 should have or should start to look like.

What input did the department’s staff have?

The input from the officers was important. They know what some of the real needs are as far as space. We did questionnaires and listening sessions. Even just talking to roll calls, different ideas would just bubble up. We’re small enough we were able to include everyone. At one point in the planning process, we had to stop ourselves and tear the page off and start with a blank piece of paper. We discovered we were trying to build a facility for what we were doing currently and needed to focus on what we should be doing.

What things were added into the plan?

Evidence was a nightmare. When officers would bring evidence in, they would have to transport it around the police department a number of times before it finally came to rest in the evidence locker room. As we looked at the design, we would mentally walk through what an officer’s day was. We went from where an officer would come into the station at the old place and run a zig-zag pattern before they got to roll call, where now there is a really nice flow. We have modern lockers and pushed for the venting of those lockers. We also put in a nice workout facility. The lunch room we have here also is a nice respite for the officers that get off the road.

Was there anything that had to be cut?

We put a community room on the south end of the building and while it is connected and integral to the building, it’s somewhat detached from the rest of the police facility. I would have liked the room to be bigger. Initially we would have loved to have a police firing range attached to the building. As a former firearms instructor, I firmly believe that the best and most realistic training we can provide our officers is to surprise them with a range training. In the real world, you can’t prepare for a bad situation. That was about a $2 million add-on. I don’t want these to come off as complaints. We are very happy with the building.

Advice to agencies planning a new facility?

You have to get buy-in from elected officials, as well as the community. We held meetings where we went in with the intent to stay as late as we could until every question was answered and there weren’t any left we could answer.

Listen to the full interview at

About the Author

Paul Peluso | Editor

Paul Peluso is the Managing Editor of OFFICER Magazine and has been with the Officer Media Group since 2006. He began as an Associate Editor, writing and editing content for Previously, Paul worked as a reporter for several newspapers in the suburbs of Baltimore, MD.

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