SUNRIVER, OR -- Sunriver voters will decide next week whether to fund construction of a new public safety facility. Police Chief Cory Darling says his department’s building was not meant to be a police station. "It’s an office space," he tells KBND News, "So, we’ve really had to make do since 2002, when the Sunriver Police Department became a part of the district. And then, the fire department has some structural integrity issues that we saw a few years ago during a major snow storm, where the fire department actually had to evacuate their facility over the winter months."
Deschutes County and the Sunriver Service District have committed $11 million to build a facility to house both police and fire services. A 10-year property tax levy on the May ballot would provide the other $7 million needed for the project. If approved, property owners would pay $.47 per $1,000 dollars of assessed value.
Darling says his existing police station lacks basic law enforcement necessities. "We had one officer that was working a graveyard shift. He went to a motor vehicle fire, where his clothing was contaminated. He had to come back to the police department, remove his contaminated clothing, putting it in a plastic bag and setting it outside the police department," says the Chief, "He was not able to take a shower. And then, the same night, he went to a fatal motor vehicle crash where he, again, saturated his uniform with bodily fluids, blood, etc. And had to come back and do the exact same thing."
Darling believes public safety upgrades are long overdue, "Currently, the police department, we have no backup power. So, if we lose power, we’re pretty much done. We have no decontamination facility, whatsoever. No showers. Our security is very inadequate for a police department. No interview rooms. Soundproofing is very limited, so you can hear conversations throughout the building. We have no ventilation for processing of evidence or holding of evidence. We have no holding cells."
Police Chief Darling says the fire department is also struggling, "The fire department was built in 1995. They fall short in a lot of areas where safety procedures have enhanced for fire departments. Decontamination is very limited on their side. The processing of the oxygen tanks is problematic. They have a lot of concerns for the safety of their firefighters."
They’ve been conducting tours for the last few months and Chief Darling says everyone who comes through the building sees why a new facility is needed. The last tour before the election is Friday at 1 p.m. Sign up in advance at the Sunriver Service District website.
There is no organized opposition to the levy.