Salt Lake City's Public Safety Facilities Bond Measure is long overdue. The deplorable state of the city's public safety building is well documented, and few if any who had spent time there would argue against the need for replacing this facility.
The air conditioning system is at best inconsistent, often making the working environment cold in the winter and hot in the summer. The plumbing routinely fails, flooding various rooms including the undersized space dedicated to storing evidence and property. Rust in the water pipes can turn a glass of tap water into brown sediment filled syrup while the elevators often fail, trapping occupants between floors.
The parking garage, which has been condemned, leaks so prolifically during rainstorms and snowmelts that pieces of the ceiling routinely fall on the city vehicles parked in the garage.
Most important, the public safety building does not appear to meet current earthquake standards. Not a comforting thought, since I have personally experienced 7.0 and 6.8 earthquakes during my police career and know the severe devastation they can cause.
In the event of a serious earthquake the current structure may very well fail, resulting in serious injuries if not loss of life to many of those who occupy this facility on a 24-hour basis. At the very least, the loss of this facility would severely hamper public safety's ability to respond in such an emergency.
Another aspect of the bond measure is the building of a dedicated city emergency operations center (EOC). As stated earlier, hardened critical facilities are essential in coordinating the response and recovery efforts of the city in the event of natural or man-made disasters. The role of government under these circumstances, in addition to preserving life, is to return the community, residents and businesses to a semblance of normalcy as soon as possible.
In this effort, it is essential that all the entities responsible for responding to a disaster, both public and private, have the ability to interact and coordinate their efforts. An EOC built to critical facilities specifications provides for this level of coordination and response under extreme conditions.
The combined Liberty Police Station and Firehouse on the east side will not only bring community policing closer to the east side of the city (just as the Pioneer Station has done for the west side of the city), but also represents a significant economy of scale by housing needed police, fire and medical services in the same facility.
While I am not the best one to speak on behalf of the Fire Department's Training Center, I have visited its current training facility and can attest to the totally inadequate portable classroom facilities firefighters must endure in all kinds of weather.
Although I'm no longer a resident of Salt Lake City, I continue to maintain strong ties and friends throughout the city and believe that this bond measure is absolutely essential in providing the community with much-needed public safety facilities well into the 21st century.
Charles F. "Rick" Dinse is the former chief of the Salt Lake City Police Department.