Design Issues for Police Buildings

Design Issues for Police Buildings

Picture from Project – Police – Troy MI_Lwr Lobby

Communities face the need for a law enforcement or public safety facility for many reasons. It can be as simple as the building’s age or condition, a recent incident with a prisoner that made the headlines, a lack of security within or around the existing building, poor evidence holding conditions, or just a simple lack of space.

Whatever the reason, the design of a new police building is no simple matter. There are many operational and security issues unique to police buildings, and we hope to cover them in successive blogs.

Here are a few of the issues that we will discuss:


  • Building Security, from the site to the holding cells and evidence storage areas.
  • The Public Lobby – accessibility, functionality, security issues and community policing functions
  • Prisoner processing and holding.
  • Evidence processing and storage; Chain of evidence inventory control
  • Releasing evidence to the owner
  • Sharing a building with your Fire Department
  • Future staff projections: additional personnel or regional consolidation?
  • Interaction among officers: is “face-time” important?
  • Communications and Emergency Operations
  • Community Rooms- what are the trade-offs?
  • Technology

There are many examples of departments learning about some of these issues by visiting other departments with new facilities and learning firsthand about what worked or did not work for that agency. However, in our experience, each law enforcement agency seems to have a few of its own unique characteristics that may not apply to your situation.

Think work tasks and operations out using a “best practice” scenario for the future, not necessarily based on current operations, which may be physically constrained. Empower your staff to help shape both future operations and the design of the facility by involving them in the entire process.