The University Police Department’s move to Campustown means, at the very least, the department’s 18 officers will have a little more room to breathe.
More than that, though, the new headquarters has helped propel the department to a new level of professionalism and has increased its presence in both the neighborhood, Lt. Troy Eeten said.
The department had been outgrowing its old headquarters in the Duryea Place parking deck for years. It made that move roughly 10 years ago from a much smaller space in MacMillan Hall.
“At the time (in MacMillan,) we had fewer officers, so it didn’t seem too cramped” Eeten said. “But as the department grew … we needed more room.”
At that point, the department was about 10 officers strong.
Since then, it’s almost doubled in size without an increase in space until last week.
“This is a much better location,” Eeten said. “It’s beneficial to those who walk in this area and to the businesses in Campustown.”
It’s also beneficial because it’s a lot harder for criminals to ignore the lighted Bradley University Police sign that adorns the storefront which used to house Blockbuster than the old office in the parking deck. Should they miss that sign, the five or six squad cars sitting out front should be enough to get them to move on.
“It’ll send a message for anyone walking through this area looking to commit a crime,” Eeten said.
At least part of the reason of moving the department to Campustown was to increase university presence on the northern edge of campus. North Underhill Street, which runs along Jimmy Johns, has been something of a problem area for crime for a long time. And when Main Street Commons is finished, the student population living on that end of campus will skyrocket.
Inside the building is more office space for the command staff and patrol officers. There’s a real records room and an evidence room. There’s even a training room complete with a Smart Board for in-house training sessions.
Perhaps most relevant to police work, though, are the two interview rooms equipped with cameras, which will allow officers to watch and record interviews. At the old department, the conference room or one of the small offices would serve as interview rooms when necessary.
The new armory, though, is the most unique. It’s a room in the rear of the department that stores weapons and ammunition. It’s obviously locked at all times. The walls and ceiling are made of concrete, as well.
The department is the second from Bradley to occupy a space in the West Main Street shopping center.
Staff from the College of Education and Health Sciences moved into the former Save-A-Lot storefront at the start of this year while Westlake Hall. The Blockbuster store closed in December 2009.