This RFP represents the first step in the Sheriff's Office and CSPD working together to explore the possibility of a regional call center and combined evidence storage facility. It is seeking proposals from outside architectural/engineering experts to help the County and the City determine the suitability of the South Union property and whether or not either of the existing buildings on the site could be repurposed for these purposes.
By way of background: The Sheriff's Office, CSPD, and many other law enforcement agencies are seeing greatly increased volumes of calls in their call centers, driven at least partially by cell phone technology. In the past hundreds of motorists would drive around a traffic accident at a busy intersection and only a few would bother to stop at the next phone booth to call for help; today everyone calls and its not uncommon for local 9-1-1 centers to bog down with dozens or even hundreds of reports on the same emergency creating huge "peaks" in call volumes. To the extent that a high call volume event will usually hit one call and dispatch center (either the Sheriff's Office or CSPD) much harder than the other a combined regional center could be a highly efficient in spreading peak call volume out over more dispatchers.
Similarly, new crime analysis and testing technology has prompted new laws requiring law enforcement agencies to keep certain types of evidence for decades greatly increasing the amount of evidence storage capacity needed. In terms of evidence storage, there is no difference between a crime investigated by the Sheriff's Office and one investigated by CSPD; both are prosecuted by District Attorney's Office and go to trial at the county courthouse. I believe the Police Chief is pretty much "on the record" with everyone in indicating that evidence storage is rapidly becoming a critical need for CSPD and the Sheriff's Office also sees a need for expanded storage in the not too distant future.
With that background - the RFP represents a sincere effort on behalf of the Sheriff and the Police Chief to explore the possibility of using an existing publicly owned property, with arguably a very good location (near CSPD, EPSO, Coroner, DA and Courts) for to meet these needs.
I haven't heard much about possible financing options. Those discussion will be more relevant after a firm selected in response to this RFP completes its assessment and reports its findings.
———ORIGINAL POST MONDAY, MARCH 14, 2016, 4:54 P.M.———————
Remember the old El Paso County Health Department
building at 301-305 S. Union Blvd.?
It's been vacant for some time after the county moved the health department and other operations from there and elsewhere to the Citizens Service Center
, 1675 Garden of the Gods Road, some years back in a massive $62 million "Strategic Moves" initiative
, started in 2011. That initiative saw the county expand its real estate holdings by buying a vacant high-tech building and moving most county functions from the downtown area
to the northwest side of town.
Well, now the county apparently needs more room yet.
In a bid announcement, it outlines plans for the old health department building on Union:
The El Paso County Public Services Department is seeking proposals from qualified experienced architectural/engineering (A/E) firms interested in providing design/real property development services for El Paso County property located at 301/305 South Union Boulevard, Colorado Springs, CO 80910. El Paso County and the City of Colorado Springs are interested in developing this property. The property is envisioned to become a regional 911 communication operations center and evidence holding facility for the El Paso County Sheriff, the District Attorney, and the City of Colorado Springs Police Department. Options range from upgrading the existing facilities to complete removal of the existing facilities and new construction. El Paso County will receive proposals from firms interested in presenting their concepts for the widest range of functionality and overall best use of the property. The services that may be included but are not limited to providing building analysis, finish design, and cost estimating. The County reserves the right to award contract to the highest ranked firm if such is deemed to be in the best interest of the County.
We've asked the county to provide more information, such as how much this project will cost and where the money will come from, and we'll update when we hear something. It came as a bit of shock to find the bid solicitation, considering the city has boasted about its own communications center, as stated on the city's website:
Welcome to the homepage of the Colorado Springs Police and Fire Department's combined communications center. The Colorado Springs Public Safety Communications Center is a state of the art facility that is responsible for answering 911 calls as well as non-emergency calls for police, fire, and medical services with-in the City of Colorado Springs. In addition, we also answer all 911 cell phone calls in El Paso County.
The Center has the added responsibility of monitoring and dispatching police and fire field units to calls for service.
In 2014 the Communications Center was reaccredited by the International Academy of Emergency Dispatch. This process is voluntary and must show compliance with the Academy’s “20 Points of Excellence.” The center retained its status as an Accredited Center of Excellence for another three years. The Communications Center has held this impressive title since January of 1998.
The city's communications center apparently doesn't handle 911 calls for the CSPD, and the renovated building or new building, whichever is decided upon, also would provide evidence storage. Both the city and county have mentioned a shortage of evidence space, and the city in 2006 had quite a little scandal about the destruction of evidence
that shouldn't have been trashed.
Deadline for bids is March 31.
UPDATE: Here's an explanation of this project from the county's communications chief Dave Rose: