AIKEN, S.C. (WJBF) – The City of Aiken rolled out plans to equip Public Safety with a new facility, so they can keep fighting crime.
The city’s 3-step approach will also provide officers with state-of-the-art crime-tracking software, increase employee retention and solve overcrowding without raising taxes.
Currently, Public Safety Headquarters fits a staff of 60 people comfortably, but there’s double that number of people working there.
“We have been busting at the seams, so to speak, in this facility for a while.” Chief Charles Barranco told WJBF NewsChannel 6.
Re-purposing closets and testing the limits of space, is the daily working conditions of the Aiken Public Safety staff.
A study, conducted by the city, revealed these working conditions don’t add up to an efficient or effective operation.
While overcrowding has been a problem for years, a new Headquarters is the solution Chief Barranco and his officers have been waiting for.
“You know, when you are proud of a facility and continue to work as hard as these men and women work, I think that they can make it something special.” Barranco said.
Walk exactly 1.7 miles from the old Public Safety Headquarters, on Laurens St., and you’ll end up at the intersection of Beaufort St. and Wire Rd.
The Mayor says going with a vacant building doesn’t affect the safety ratings for the fire department and it also saves taxpayers money.
“Because there’s already an existing shell, but if you were starting from scratch to build this building, I mean, we are still negotiating on numbers, but it’s going to save substantial millions.” Mayor Rick Osbon said.
Osbon says it will be renamed the J. Carroll Busbee Public Safety Headquarters, in honor of the former Chief.
While it won’t include a holding facility, it will have plenty of office space, parking and bigger quarters for firefighters.
“So having those upgrades for our officers not to take, you know, if we have a fire or something they’ll be able to wash off here.” Barranco said. “Instead of taking some of those carcinogenic or whatever to their home.”
Nearly $2 million dollars was raised through Capital Project Sales Tax to pay for upgrades to Public Safety.
Once city leaders get final numbers they will be voting to allocate the necessary funds to pay for the structure. That could be sometime before the end of the month.
They hope to move into the new building by 2018.
Count on WJBF NewsChannel 6 to bring you the latest on this developing story.