Command Q&A: Building a Shared Facility

June 12, 2024
Bozeman Police Chief Jim Veltkamp recently spoke to OFFICER about planning the facility and what went into making it a reality.

Building a law enforcement facility is hard on its own, but planning and constructing one that is part of a shared facility offers additional challenges. The Bozeman Public Safety Center in Montana, which was completed in January of 2022, won the Gold Award for Public Safety Centers in the 2023 OFFICER Station Design Awards. Bozeman Police Chief Jim Veltkamp recently spoke to OFFICER about planning the facility and what went into making it a reality.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

How was the planning process?

As you can imagine, it was a very long process. Bozeman is a rapidly growing community. Our city is adding to its population very quickly. So, the first thing we did was look at city growth projections. Based on that, we did some staffing analysis where we are going to be down the road. After that, we kind of laid out space needs based on the staffing plan. From there, we took the space needs and worked on adjacencies. Then we kept tweaking the design. As you can imagine, walls were moved, things were changed many, many times until we had something much better to present. And then, substantial public education. We were able to provide enough education that we ended up having about 60% vote yes for the facility. Construction started a couple of years later and was finished a couple years after that. The initial vision was a shared facility. We have the fire department and municipal court in this building. From there it became kind of figuring out where each department was going to be, how much their space needs were and how it would fit together.

What features are you the most proud of?

One of the things I’m proud of is the opportunity to insert technology appropriately. For example, we added body cams around the time the building was being built and we had the opportunity to make that technology work with the interview room video systems. It’s all one system along with the patrol car video systems. Being intentional about thinking about what systems should work with other systems is certainly something that I’m proud of.

What security features were included?

There’s always a balance. If you’re just going for security, it’s going to look like a small military base. At the same time, we know bad incidents happen. We had a couple different people drive right into the front of our old building in suicide attempts. Making the front open, accessible, so it’s obvious and clear where the entrance is --a lot of glass inside--but the glass also allows the security officers in the lobby who are screening people to be able to see outside and see what’s going on. The officers and staff enter on the other end behind a secure fence. That side of the building does have a lot of glass open to the secure lot, but the side of the building that faces the main road, not only is it brick and stone, but it also has ballistic panels in it, and the windows are higher for security and safety. Even my office has a window that’s six feet off the ground, just to add a little bit of security and privacy. Anywhere between the public area, in the lobby and the secure area, there’s ballistic glass and ballistic panels. It’s a different environment once you get behind the secure walls.

What advice would you give other departments?

I recommend not skimping. If there is something vital or needed, you have the public support, you have the public funding, make sure you build it right. You don’t want to under-size and build a facility that doesn’t meet your future needs, because then you’re in a situation where you must go back to the voters and try to figure out how to rectify this.

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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