AUBURN — For the first time in more than 20 years, the Auburn Police Department has a new outlook on life.
On Tuesday evening, dozens of people toured the Market Street station, which recently completed some serious renovations. It was the department's first major upgrade since the early 1990s, when a three-bay garage was transformed into the command center.
That command center has now been completely redesigned and remodeled. In addition, the historic building has four new interview rooms, a break room, a training room and a sally port, a separate entrance for people taken into custody.
Police Chief Shawn Butler said renovations began back in April after Bouley Associates won a bid for the project. Ultimately, the construction cost the department a little more time and money than expected, totaling around $270,000. However, he said, it came at no cost to the city.
"The taxpayers didn't foot the bill for any of it," Butler said, noting that the remodel was fully funded by local and federal asset forfeiture funds. "The city didn't have to budget anything for it."
Butler said the project fixed a flaw in the original design of the building, which was constructed on the corner of North Street and Market Street in the 1930s. For years, officers, prisoners and victims all entered the department through the same entrance. But now that's changed, as officers can transport suspects directly to the new processing room or cell block without passing through the public lobby.
"It's our focus that anybody that comes here is safe and comfortable," Butler said. "This has brought us up to the 21st century of policing."
And while the renovations certainly cleaned things up — repairing decades-old water damage and replacing old wires and cracked ceiling tiles — Butler said the department's transformation was much more than physical.
"The whole mood here has changed," he said, smiling. "When I first started, morale was down in the dumps. But I think this has helped turn that around.
"It was embarrassing to come in here before," Butler added. "Now this is something our officers are proud of. We're proud to call this home."