WELCOME TO THE 2020 LAW ENFORCEMENT DESIGN AWARDS
Janet Wilmoth, Special Projects Director
The Officer Media Group is pleased to present the first annual Law Enforcement Design Awards featuring law enforcement and public safety facilities from across the United States. Twenty-eight facilities, among five categories, submitted by 21 architectural firms, are included in this issue.
The purpose of the Law Enforcement Design Awards is to help educate police chiefs, directors, and local and municipal leaders on trends and innovations in new law enforcement and public safety facilities. This collection of facilities also presents the work of architectural firms who specialize in law enforcement facilities.
One note: Keep in mind this is a national collection of facilities, and prices will vary greatly depending on the region. Styles vary based on the locale, size, budget and agency responsibilities in the community served.
While we highlight entries with Gold, Silver and Bronze awards, every entry in this issue is a winner for the law enforcement department, agency and community it serves. Improved efficiency, expanded resources and higher security is required for all law enforcement professionals.
The judging process for the Law Enforcement Design Awards was graciously hosted by Police Chief Ron Wilke of the Lisle Police Department in Illinois. The six judges included two police chiefs, three architects specialized in law enforcement design and one retired police chief who currently is a consultant to an architect firm. Each judge was asked to review every portfolio submitted and select their top three choices in each of the five categories based on their experience with operations, security and designs. In some categories, the votes for the Gold winner were unanimous, while most categories required a great deal of discussion about their choices. The judges’ discussions and reasons, based on their priorities and perspective, were fascinating to hear. Listening to the pros and cons in voting for a facility was quite an education itself.
Gold winners were selected for a high standard of excellence in design, innovative aspects to improve the efficiency, security, and professionalism of the department personnel and its community.
The floor plans for each entry were carefully reviewed by the judges. From the visitors’ access in a secured lobby, to administration and various departments, the sally ports and parking areas were each carefully reviewed.
The priority of security took many forms, including the exterior the buildings. Glass exposing personnel to risk was protected with rated, ballistic-resistant glazing. Protection from vehicular assault ranged from concrete planters, low-wall concrete walls and crash-rated bollards. Reinforced exterior walls included 16 to 22-inch thick concrete and reinforced to withstand a truck bomb at 100 feet.
With increased focus on behavioral health and stress-reduction, the police chief judges welcomed the open areas of lunchrooms, café-style break areas and interior courtyards to encourage informal interaction for personnel. Also noted was the increase of natural light inside the buildings.
Many of the facilities included indoor or underground parking for squad cars. One judge recalled a severe hailstorm in Minnesota in which squads parked outside had all the windshields smashed by the baseball-sized hail and were out of service. The most popular trend recognized was for enclosed, drive-thru parking garages with two high-speed garage doors for fast response time and in case one door malfunctions.
A couple of the entries were designed to fit into the locale as the Orleans, MA, Police Station’s classic Cape Cod style or the traditional to the very trendy Orlando, FL, Police Headquarters and Crime Lab.
Several of the facilities were Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified to meet extensive goals for healthy and more sustainable future. Other facilities included numerous energy-efficient and healthier environments without going thru the certification process.
It was at the conclusion of the judging process, the discussion evolved about the need to design law enforcement facilities with a sense of dignity and respect.
One of the judges, Dean Roberts, Senior Principal, McClaren, Wilson, Lawrie Architects, said, “We need to give dignity to the people we are designing space for. These [law enforcement] professionals are highly trained. Can we, as design professionals, bring dignity to the people we are designing for?” Some police departments are in what were deemed temporary buildings and are still there. “Let’s get some dignity to the people who work here,” Roberts added.
All the judges agreed that too often, local officials determine a fixed price for the project before the facility’s needs assessment is completed. “How little can we spend on this project?” is often the officials’ goal, forgetting the function of a law enforcement building which will be used 24 hours a day for the
next 30 to 40 years. Too often officials and the public do not truly understand what law enforcement really does and educating your officials begins before you plan a new facility.
The 2020 Law Design Awards showcase is an effort to share the work of law enforcement agencies to provide state-of-the art, secure facilities to protect law enforcement personnel and employees to better serve and protect their communities.
Whether you are planning a new facility now or considering one down the road, this collection offers you an abundance of ideas and things to think about. Also, the opportunity to view the work of architectural firms who specialize in law enforcement and public safety facilities. This issue is a ‘keeper’ to be used as a resource for your planning.