"Skokie hit gold by going green."
The Village of Skokie, Ill. is 16 miles northwest of downtown Chicago and 12 miles east of O’Hare International Airport. Skokie has over 64,000 residents, and 2,400 businesses in the Village of 10.2 square miles. Skokie was named among the 80 fastest-growing suburbs in the entire nation by Money Magazine in 2003.
Skokie’s Police Chief Anthony Scarpelli stated their former station was built in 1957, and it was renovated in 1985. They went from about 50 staff in 1957 to 149 current full-time employees. The building was not designed to meet modern power and data needs and could not add additional electrical circuits. Data, fire alarm and sprinkler systems did not meet current design standards. Major building systems were past their useful life expectancy and the HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems were frequently breaking down.
Many areas of the facility did not comply with the Americans with Disability Act. Their records storage, evidence processing, prisoner holding and office spaces were grossly inadequate. Evidence Technicians were using a janitor’s closet and the adjacent hallway floor to process evidence. The prisoner processing area was inadequate and presented officer safety issues.
Conditions were not conducive to good employee morale. Traffic patterns within the building were causing interruptions with training and follow-up investigations (to access records storage, personnel had to walk through the training room). Police cars were not protected from the weather, employee and citizen parking spaces were inadequate, and employee locker space was extremely limited.
In 2005 Skokie conducted a comprehensive space-needs study, which showed the original facility was undersized and lacked the infrastructure to support a modern, technologically advanced police facility. The new 80,000-square-foot facility was designed to meet Gold Certification standards from the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program, the nationally accepted benchmark for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green buildings.
A Commitment to Green
Crime Prevention Officer Joe Marzigliano pointed out that their new headquarters was designed and built to be something truly special for their employees and their community. His pride was evident when he explained they “met their goal of remaining warm and welcoming to the public with a spacious and generously landscaped front plaza, brightly sunlit lobby and easily approachable information desk” and “we wanted to shoot for ‘green’.”
Every key construction and design question was judged against the LEED benchmark, including the integration of a cistern-based rainwater reclamation and irrigation system. The environmentally friendly building was constructed with recycled content and regionally sourced materials, landscaped with water efficient plantings, and designed to integrate natural daylight with energy-efficient light fixtures and occupancy sensors throughout the building. From the reflective roof to the under-floor air distribution system and the insulated, low-E glass in between, the Skokie Police headquarters was built from top to bottom to be “green.”
Green Means Grant Money
Skokie realized they needed to locate funding sources for such an ambitious project in today’s economic climate and received more than $1.9 million in federal, state and private grants. The Department of Homeland Security/Federal Emergency Management Agency awarded the largest grant, totaling $1 million administered by the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, although only $12 million was competitively allocated nationwide.
That grant allowed the village to build a state-of-the-art Emergency Operations Center. Similarly, the dispatch capabilities of the Communications Center are being modernized through a $465,000 Department of Justice COPS Technology grant, and the acquisition of a virtual-firearms training system was achieved with other federal grant funds.
Due to the energy-efficient design and environmental sustainability of the new facility, Skokie was able to pursue grants from state and private sources by highlighting the Village’s commitment to green initiatives and the efficient use of the earth’s resources. Their efforts resulted in substantial awards from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and the State of Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO).
The Police Department was also very successful in its application for Electric Efficiency and Thermal Energy Efficiency grant funds through the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO). The result of these collective efforts resulted in a total of almost $230,000 in energy-related grant funding alone and other grant awards were also received. The total funding for the construction of the police facility, integrated emergency operations center, and equipment exceeded $1.9 million toward the creation of Skokie’s operationally effective and energy-efficient law enforcement facility.
The New Facility
When Skokie completed their space-needs study, the economy was solid but soon after committing to the construction of their new facility, the sub-prime mortgage crisis exploded, the market tumbled, and economic conditions spiraled downward affecting Skokie’s Village revenues just as other municipalities nationwide. The Village was forced to review its financial situation. One fortunate side effect of the economic climate was a very competitive bid environment among the trades, allowing more cost-effective contracts.
Skokie’s new facility is by design a locked down facility. Forty-five monitored cameras are strategically located throughout the building for security purposes and to maintain accountability in all areas of the department, including security for the evidence room. While the building is very secure and utilizes new technology to protect staff and the integrity of their files, it presents a friendly and inviting atmosphere. The new facility uses natural lighting as much as possible and the impression is of roominess and light.
Evidence & Property Storage
Skokie’s evidence room went from using a janitor’s closet and the hallway area to having a spacious and well-appointed evidence / property storage facility with appropriate shelving and technological advances such as refrigerated DNA storage, rolling shelving and proper evidence identification storage from the Bradford Systems’ Space Saver products. They now have cabinets and shelving for nearly any size or shape item that might need secured. Their evidence room has adequate space for expansion and utilizes a variety of evidence storage shelving and cabinets.
Evidence Technician Kert Siemiawski said their new evidence / property room is several times as large as the old one. The new facility has state-of-the-art keyless evidence and pass-through evidence storage lockers, including refrigerated DNA and biological storage. They now have a separate drug room with its own ventilation system. The easy mobility of the shelving allows them to have easy access to each row and the high-density shelving allows them much more storage space. “The new facility is a plus for us all,” Siemiawski reported.
Employee entry to the evidence room is gained through a FAB keypad entry system. All visitors and maintenance personnel are escorted by Property / I.D. Officers and recorded on a written log sheet. Property / I.D. Officers receive special training as a Certified Property and Evidence Specialist, and all of them have access to an SOP manual, which is located in the Property office. Drugs, money and weapons are stored in a locked room according to certified CALEA (Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc.) standards and this special storage space is a real plus in providing security for valuables.
Skokie maintains a separate property and evidence area as recommended by the International Association of Property and Evidence (IAPE). All items are inventoried when they are received in addition to one Chief’s inspection per year, four quarterly inspections, and random inspections throughout the year.
The new Skokie Police Department has their own area for crime scene technicians to examine evidence and perform testing. Their Evidence Technicians have a Fuming Chamber for the development of latent fingerprints, a drying cabinet to safely dry biological evidence and a forensic light room for examining evidence. They then send evidence out to the state lab for verification purposes.
Record Management Systems
When Skokie moved to their new facility, they were careful to secure the integrity of the files being transferred. Hard copy files were packed in banker boxes and transported to the new facility, the boxes being immediately unpacked and placed into a new lateral filing system located in the new secure archives room. Microfiche / microfilm tapes were transferred in locked storage cabinets and then placed in the archives room.
Kerry Okada, Records Supervisor, stated that all data is housed on servers at the Police Department and also servers at the MIS Department at the Village Hall and the Village is utilizing virtual servers. During the move to the new facility, the Police Department MIS Officer supervised the transfer of the server to the new facility.
Okada stated that Skokie is using the RMS system by HTE and running CAD6 in the Communications Unit. They are currently starting transitioning into OSSI RMS and OSSI CAD, and they will also utilize OSSI Property and Evidence software as well as Mobile Field Reporting (MFR) software. They are working with SunGard’s OSSI Team to transition from HTE to OSSI’s Cad, MFR and RMS and he stated, “Capabilities and possibilities look very bright for our future.
Some of the important things about SunGard’s system are the proposed functionality and possibilities of certain modules within the new RMS, CAD and MFR.” Information flows from MFR whether it be through HTE Report Writing Software or the Citation module, currently by APS. He stated that data is then transferred into their criminal database (RMS system). Skokie currently does not transmit citations electronically to the courthouse, nor interface with any other municipality.
Skokie’s Records Unit enters data and processes and archives all police reports, both in paper and electronic forms. This unit houses high-density records storage with Space Saver from Bradford Systems that more than doubles the traditional storage capacity. All materials are stored in a manner consistent with legal records retention mandates.
Skokie PD maintains their own Police and Fire Emergency Communications Center, which is self-contained and handled by Skokie staff, who are certified in emergency medical dispatching. They are a centralized 24/7 Fire and Police Emergency Communications Dispatch Center.
Skokie Police Department has separate stations set up for dispatch functions. Each station has its own lighting and ventilation system. Their communications center is equipped with Bramic furniture, which is ergonomically correct and adjustable for standing and sitting dispatching, which can help avoid repetitive stress injuries and fatigue.
Virtual Firearms Training
The Skokie Police Department commissioned several high-tech, cutting-edge additions in their new facility. These include a Virtual-Firearms Training Room with a 300-degree video simulator system from VirTra that provides real-life scenario-based training opportunities. Officers use real firearms with the barrel and bullets removed. They are fitted with a laser for the barrel and CO2 to simulate the weapon cycling in the officer’s hand.
The system teaches use-of-force decision making and has the capability of allowing multiple officers to participate simultaneously and it tracks exactly how each officer did in the scenario. This system is one of only two comparable systems in the State of Illinois and the only municipality with this system. The system was funded entirely by a federal grant.
Their new facilities include a new 32-foot-wide firearms range which is also used by other local law enforcement agencies. The design allows for scenario-based training that can include using a vehicle and lateral target movement. The range has a firing line that is 75 feet away from the farthest possible target point. Total-containment trap design includes a deceleration chamber designed to slow down bullets and maximize the capture of lead, lead dust and bullet fragments. They are also proud of their communications center, which is 9-1-1 Next Generation compatible, including text 9-1-1 capability and pictures sent via a smartphone.
With an eye toward future needs, Skokie PD designated a space as a multi-use area, and it is used as a training room, Emergency Operations Center and Community room. It has a training capacity of 90 persons at tables and a total capacity of 180 persons. It is divisible into two rooms and is a multimedia-equipped room with a 116-inch x 87-inch projection screen and eight simultaneous media feeds.
The Department has decontamination showers available to officers and prisoners, complying with OCEA standards, in the event of being exposed to blood / urine, pepper spray, or other biological or chemical contaminant.
The new Skokie Police Department also has a state-of-the-art fitness center open to all Skokie Police employees. It is equipped with several treadmills, free and standing weight centers, and elliptical machines. Creature comforts of televisions and audio equipment are available to enhance the workout.
While not every department has the ability to build a new facility, Skokie had the foresight to build something that can be part of their city’s future and help leave less of a carbon footprint on the environment, making their city safer and cleaner. They were able to get grant funding by their approach to green building and explored how other departments had maximized their usefulness of their remodeling or building.
Skokie researched vendors and used those that provided them with the newest cutting-edge designs in police equipment and technology, consistent support, appropriate law enforcement security, and improved employee satisfaction. They are able to assist smaller departments with training and firing range scenarios. They didn’t just build a new building; they created an atmosphere of professionalism and community pride.
Resources for State-of-Art Agencies
In reaching for the State-of-Art, both Skokie and Lakemoor sought resources for their specific needs. Here is who these particular agencies turned to. While some of these resources are specific to Illinois, there may be similar programs available in other states.
Surplus Equipment Opportunities
ILEAS - www.ileas.org The Illinois Law Enforcement Alarm System (ILEAS) was formed in 2002 in response to the September 11th attacks as a joint venture of the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police, the Illinois Sheriffs’ Association, and the Illinois Emergency Management Agency and was created to meet the needs of local law enforcement in matters of mutual aid, emergency response and enhancing resources in time of emergencies.
Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) of the Department of Defense, surplus military equipment available to local law enforcement
Illinois Department of Central Management Services
Federal surplus: http://www2.illinois.gov/cms/business/surplus/Pages/fedsurbr.aspx
State surplus: http://www2.illinois.gov/cms/business/surplus/Pages/stsurhow.aspx