Police vote: Yes, with caveat

Ballots will be mailed to Mid-Valley voters Wednesday seeking approval of a bond measure to fund a new police facility among other items. We're inclined to recommend a 'yes' vote with one exception.

In a rush to get this on the May ballot, the city has yet to release actual architectural plans for the new police headquarters.

And we understand why Salem moved with such haste. The 2017 fall ballot is likely to be crowded with outstretched hands.

First, the Salem-Keizer School District is studying whether to add a bond measure to the November ballot to fund district needs, and second,  the mayor himself vowed at a work session to include a bond measure for seismic upgrades to the library.

This means there is a strong likelihood that Salem voters will be faced with taxing themselves three times in 2017.

Believing that voters rejected the police facility in November 2016 because of its price tag, the city scaled back the cost of the new police headquarters from $82 million to $61.8 million.

But in the rush to get the price down, the city jettisoned plans to add the 9-1-1 call center to the new police headquarters. We believe this is a serious omission, and one that will have the city coming back to taxpayers soon asking for more money to add 9-1-1 communications to the assumed new police facility.

Donors have raised huge sums to ensure the bond measure passes, $89,950 as of this week. We think their efforts are better spent convincing the city, since it's still in the conception phase and renderings haven't been released , to add a shell for the call center to the existing plans.

Television commercials and online ads promise that the reduced-sized and priced facility will meet the community's needs for decades to come. But we're skeptical.

It makes sense to have the call center in the new headquarters as it was in the defeated fall bond measure.

Rough it in, as they say in the building and remodeling industries. Site the call center, pour the foundation, frame it, lay out the basics without the all the interior details. Then wait until more funds can be secured to complete it. But it gets built at the same time as the new police headquarters and saves taxpayers money in the long run by allowing for easier modification later.

City leaders argue, and we don't disagree, that our community's police officers can no longer do their jobs well from the cramped quarters they currently occupy. For instance, the police department is so confined, equipment for the bomb team and S.W.A.T. are stored off site and space for the crime lab is rented. Victims and alleged criminals pass each other in the halls.

Name an overcrowding problem and it exists at the current Salem Police Department facility.

If voters are going to tax themselves for a new police headquarters, they should get a facility that fulfills the city's needs for decades. Taxpayers shouldn't have the city in its rearview mirror, coming back again in a half dozen years looking to build the call center.

Call city officials and tell them to add a roughed-in version of the call center back into the plans.
And then vote "yes."

Statesman Journal, 04/21/2017

Mary Lucas

Mary Lucas

Crime Victims Will Appreciate Your YES Vote on Measure 24-420

Salem needs a new public safety center for a lot of reasons, but for me it’s mostly about the protections it will provide for crime victims like me.

Yes. I was a victim, and I cannot imagine the fear and degradation a woman would feel if she happened to face her attacker after his arrest. But that is exactly what can happen in the current police station. It’s so small and cramped in there with limited interview rooms that victim and assailant can literally pass each other in the hallway. It’s unimaginable, I know, but we have to have a police headquarters that protects crime victims in our community by separating them from their attackers.

That is why I am 100 percent behind the proposed new police center, and I hope voters will vote YES on Measure 24-420.

Six years ago I was walking in Riverfront Park when a man grabbed me from behind and dragged me down an embankment, holding me at knife point. I screamed, and three young men heard me and came to my aid. They pulled my attacker off me, and somebody called 911. Salem police arrived within minutes, and they arrested the man. He told the police that he had been intent on rape and murder.

I was very fortunate that my three heroes were close and heard my cries, and I am grateful for the quick response from Salem police. We have a tremendous police force here, and they don’t deserve to continue to operate out of their police station any longer than it takes to build the new one.

I formed a nonprofit, CrossWalk, to raise money to support the Marion County Victim Assistance Program. You, too, can support crime victims by seeing to it that they are safe and protected in the new police center. Vote YES on Measure 24-420.

Mary Lucas

Salem CityWatch weighs in on Salem Police Facility Bond Measure set for May!

When Salem’s Police Department moved into the first floor of the then new City Hall in 1972, nobody expected that the Police Department would still be there 45 years later. In 1972, City Hall was fine for Salem’s 25 officers and staff. 45 years latter, with 189 offers and staff serving a population which has since tripled, 28,000 square feet is totally inadequate.

A modern, secure and technology-updated facility is necessary. The current design concept (115,000 square feet, at a cost of about $62 million) meets these needs. This bond will be paid off over 30 years (the usual length of bond indebtedness), resulting in an increase of about $4.20 per month per household in property taxes.

Detractors of this facility have railed against any facility which is not built on the cheap or that seems to provide an excessive amount of space. A facility will get built, but the real question is when and will it be adequate, not just for Salem’s current needs, but for the next few decades as well?

Time does not favor those who feel that the public should not pay for anything but minimal infrastructure. Detractors have already delayed the process of hiring an architect and getting a workable design in place within a year. As with every infrastructure project, every month that goes by will cost money—lots of it. The cost of land goes up. Construction costs go up. The cost of borrowing money, i.e., interest on bond payments, goes up. The land for the facility may well be sold to someone else. If the May bond measure fails to pass, it seems likely that it will be many more years before a facility gets built. It has already taken several years to reach the point we are at now.

Of course, building size is not determined just by the number of officers, or, as some have suggested, by whether the level of violent crime has gone down. Either of those claims shows a misunderstanding of the modern police force. A modern police facility must contain training rooms, interrogation rooms, rooms for detectives, crime victims, juveniles, and much more. There must be facilities for evidence processing and storage, and space for records processing and storage (even in an electronic age) – which have to be retained for many years in some cases.

It also must have administrative offices, an armory, a crime lab, computers, electronic and internet capabilities, and state-of-the art security systems. It must be built to much higher safety and resiliency standards. Outside windows and inside walls need to be bullet proof. Like a hospital, it is expected to withstand various catastrophes, ensuring that the police force itself will still be able to protect the City. Of course, all of this cost more than a typical office building.

We, the public, should not be in the business of micro-managing either the design of the facility or the cost. To do either is manifestly foolish and a sign of hubris. We should allow the experts in these matters to get on with their jobs. We should be willing to provide the police department with the tools which it needs to be efficient and effective. A well-designed facility is one of those tools. It would be penny-wise and pound foolish to build a smaller facility which might well need to be replaced in ten or twenty years because it had become too small or inadequate to be functional.

We must plan to allow for the changes time will inevitably bring. The current proposal allows for expansion to accommodate changes and to provide a useable building life of 30-40 years (in practicality, it will probably be even longer).

If $62 Million sounds too costly, then consider whether the price of one movie ticket a month, or one glass of beer or one latte a week (and that is for just one year) is worth more than the security and safety our police department provides to our City.

Do we really want to keep our police force working in outmoded and severely cramped quarters for that long? Or, shall we move the Department into leased and unsecured premises while we continue to fight about the size and cost? We should pass this bond measure now.

People can make excuses for anything, that’s why they are called “excuses.” There is no excuse for failing to support the Police Facility Bond measure in May.

Written by Kasia Quillinan, CityWatch Chair, on behalf of Salem CityWatch, which voted unanimously to support the May bond measure for a new police facility in Salem, Oregon

The Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance asks you to Vote Yes on Measure 24-420 to provide better public safety for Salem’s families and neighborhoods.

Any time taxpayers are asked to spend money on a public facility, they should expect a clear statement as to the purpose of the facility. In this case the purpose is very clear: provide a modern facility so that our police officers can be more effective and efficient in doing their job to protect the law-abiding public and to bring lawbreakers to justice.

Upkes and Mannix at East Salem Rotary

Upkes and Mannix at East Salem Rotary

Here are some key benefits of this new facility:

  • Provide an earthquake resistant facility for police to operate after a natural disaster.
  • Provide better security for officers and the public entering and using the facility
  • Provides a centralized office for all police functions so various units can work together, increasing efficiency.
  • Improve privacy for crime victims and case witnesses so they do not have to be close to each other in cramped quarters.
  • Provide better communication systems in a modern facility.
  • With increased space, provide our police officers with room to get the job done with specialized, improved offices for interviews, lab testing, storage of evidence, and more.

We have a fine police force with well-trained officers. We need to equip them with a headquarters facility which will permit them to do their jobs and protect us, to the best of their capability. That is why the Oregon Anti-Crime Alliance asks you to vote yes!


Quit delaying needed police facility
Statesman Journal 04/28/2017

It’s time to stop kicking the police facility can down the road. After 10 years of studies, consultants, discussions and committee meetings, the public should stop trying to micromanage a project that requires blast-proof doors, bullet-proof glass, special sheetrock, storage spaces for weapons and evidence and state-of-the-art extreme security systems. This is not an ordinary building.

Do we want our police department to be able to function efficiently in its new space for the next 30-40 years or should we settle for a lesser building which may need to be replaced in 10? Do we wish to be penny-wise and pound foolish or should we take the long view and realize that quality civic buildings are a cost of a civilized society?

Delay by failing to pass this bond will only result in additional land and construction costs and may result in the loss of the proposed downtown site.

Let’s build a police facility that is modern, efficient and good for the long term to which we can point with civic pride.

Kasia Quillinan, Salem


Support bond, show police their importance to community
Statesman Journal, 04/26/2017


The police force of Salem needs a new facility. I have no affiliation with them and, honestly, have had a run-in a time or two with an officer. However, it is time to show some respect to these officers.

Trust me, I like being taxed about as much as I like getting a speeding ticket. However, these men and women and canines put their lives on the line for us every day.

Come on, Salem, show them how important they are to the community. Prisoners have better accommodations than they do. How ridiculous and sad is that?

Vote yes when you receive your ballot.

Mary Vlinden, Salem


Salem has an overwhelming need for new police facility
Statesman Journal, 04/25/2017

I’m supporting the new police headquarters now that I’ve learned more about the safety, security and storage concerns at our present facility.

The current police station in City Hall is not designed for the 21st century. Witnesses and victims have little or no separation from suspects in the crowded hallways and inadequate interview spaces. It’s an untenable situation that just asks for trouble and trauma for victims.

Evidence in criminal cases is often stored off-site because there is no longer room in the police station. The way our justice system works, sometimes it takes years for a case to come to trial. We need to be certain that the evidence for cases is handled properly and stored securely.

Finally, the lobby of our present police station forces people together in a tiny, uncomfortable space. As first impressions go, it’s pretty bad.

I encourage Salem voters to support the new police center by voting yes on Measure 24-420.

Gina Anne Johnnie, Salem


Support bond measure; new police facility way overdue
Statesman Journal, 04/24/2017

I’ll make this short and sweet: we need voters to pass the police bond. It’s overdue. The city’s No. 1 duty is to ensure the safety of our community and, quite frankly, I’m embarrassed to see some of the conditions they have to work in, including elbow-to-elbow storage and work space.

Over the years, our police have attended every South East Salem Neighborhood Association (SESNA) meeting and followed up on every issue or complaint our neighbors voice. They often drive slowly through our streets as a calming, watchful presence when we have concerns.

While our population has grown in size and diversity, their numbers and resources haven’t kept pace ...  yet they still address everything we ask for, somehow, even if it’s just giving us their cell numbers.

The SESNA Board recommends passing this bond and, as SESNA Chair, I’m honored to put my name on this letter.

Shannon Priem, Chair, South East Salem Neighborhood Association, Salem


Victims, citizens will benefit from new police facility
Statesman Journal, 04/21/2017

As Marion County’s district attorney, I urge you to support Measure 24-420. Every day I am grateful for the exceptional public safety services delivered by the men and women of the Salem Police Department. The quality of their work is second to none.

Today, it is essential that we match those services to a safe, functional and modern public safety facility. It will fulfill the demands of public safety for future generations. In my opinion, the justice system depends upon it.

The capacity to store evidence for court in the current facility is unacceptable and undermines the public safety system. The new facility will ensure that evidence will be effectively secured and preserved as required by law. Victims and citizens alike will benefit from the new facility, designed to be convenient, safe and respectful of their needs.

Please join me in supporting Measure 24-420.

Walt Beglau, Salem


Support our police by voting yes on Measure 24-420
Statesman Journal, 04/19/2017

We are voting for Ballot Measure 24-420 authorizing $62 million for a new Salem police station. Working conditions for Salem police are indefensible.

Some say the proposed building still costs too much. We agree. However, Mayor Bennett assured us that construction plans are not finalized yet. Hopefully, an economical steel building manufacturer will be chosen for build-out and not the brick or marble used in too many public buildings in Salem.
City, county and state leaders have “Taj Mahal” edifice complexes. Voters may use this as a reason to vote no. However, we cannot and must not punish loyal and hardworking police staff for previous unwise decisions.

Our police deserve offices meeting minimal needs for comfort, work productivity and safety. Support our police by voting yes on Measure 24-420.

Richard and Sydney Hatch, Salem


Now is the time to support the new police facility
Statesman Journal, 04/04/2017

One of the key parts of the proposed new police facility in Salem is the protection it affords to all our citizens.

Where the police are located now in the Civic Center, there is minimal privacy or safety for the officers, the staff and, even more importantly, the people they serve: the victims. The current location allows the victim and the suspect to be in the same waiting room while they check in. Domestic violence victims have absolutely no protection from their predators while they are walking into the police station from the dark, underground parking lot.

If and when the Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake hits, we all are going to be paralyzed and limited in our ability to access our loved ones. I know that I want our police officers to be prepared and able to protect and serve those who have been hit the hardest.

Salem is a beautiful city that serves and welcomes everyone and it is constantly seeking ways to improve. Now is the time to support the new police facility. Please vote yes on Measure 24-420.

Laura Morett, Salem


Support bond and give our police updated facilities
Statesman Journal, 04/03/2017

Please support the spring bond measure for the new police center.

We owe it to our officers to do our part. It is time to provide them with a building adequately sized, with seismic and security measures to protect both them and us in our changing world.

We owe it to our fellow citizens to ensure proper separation between suspects and witnesses. Could you imagine seeing someone at the police station immediately after they attacked you or a member of your family?

Currently, the department has to lease additional space for the crime lab, evidence, training, meetings and to store special police vehicles for SWAT and bomb squad. Having everything under one roof will surely enable quicker response times and also save the city money. A modern facility will be much more efficient for the officers and civilian staff, enabling them to do the great job they already do for us even better.

It’s time to bring our police department out of the ’70s. Let’s all join our city council and unanimously vote yes in May for a new police center!

Dan Wellert, Salem


Support measure to bring police facility into 21st century
Statesman Journal, 04/02/2017

Salem is blessed with an excellent police department and a great chief in Jerry Moore. It is inconceivable that they should have to operate out of the cramped, outdated space they have in City Hall any longer than what it would take to build a new public safety center.

Crime victims ought to feel safe and protected in the center, and those reporting crimes deserve privacy to discuss details without anyone else in the lobby listening in. They can’t now.

Families need police officers to be available 24/7/365 to respond to emergencies, and not be trapped by a building damaged in an earthquake.

Taxpayers can be assured that public safety is not compromised in a center that saves them $20 million from the building they rejected last fall. In fact, public safety is enhanced.

I urge voters to say yes to Measure 24-420 in May. Let’s bring our police center into the 21st century.

John R. Hawkins, Salem

Statesman Journal, 4/2/2017


Rejecting a better police facility inhibits city’s growth
Statesman Journal, 03/30/2017

In the 1960s, John Salisbury was a radio announcer for KXL in Portland. He closed his evening radio program with a message for Americans.

The “Abominable No Man” was one of those programs. You say yes, he says no. You say here’s an idea, he says no it won’t work. He’s in all walks of life, families, armed services and in every community. Doesn’t he know it promotes a wasteland where nothing can grow?

In Salem, this man is saying no to a new police station.

Not only do the police need a better facility, the community needs it. Salem is growing, and every year it gets more costly when he says no.

When I got out of high school in 1948, Salem had a population of 17,000. Yes, it has grown and will continue to grow.

I hope the next time we vote that Salem will say yes to a new police station.

Kenard W. Adams, Salem