When the City of Rock Hill Law Center first opened its doors in 1977: David Lyle (as in Dave Lyle Blvd.) was the city’s mayor, the Bleachery was stamping American flags by the thousands, and the city’s police department had around 90 employees.
Today, the department that boasts national accreditation status from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies has about 180 employees in total, a third of whom work inside the 120 E. Black Street facility on any given day.
And after nearly thirty years, City Council approved the first major addition to the law center in May 2013. The addition, the last of which was wrapped up in May, first opened to the public in April.
City council, city management, court staff and police employees cut the ribbon — crime scene tape — on the $1.7 million addition Tuesday before launching tours to media and council.
The new wing will house the department’s administrative staff including the Chief of Police, Professional Standards Unit and the Support Services Major.
“As you all have heard, we’re operating in closets,” said police chief Chris Watts, referring to the department’s cramped quarters. “We will still use some of those closets as offices.”
Watts, who has already moved into his new office, has an adjoining conference room he dubbed his “war room,” complete with high-definition television screens to monitor real-time cameras, local news feeds and data from the field.
Also among the building’s new features: A state-of-the-art training room that police spokesman Mark Bollinger said will comfortably seat 75 people. It has already been used for the department’s promotion and awards ceremony in late May and for the agency’s bi-weekly CompSTAT meetings.
The department’s former training room — in the 1977 part of the law center — will be refurbished as a second, smaller courtroom. Entrances will be secured to control access from the law enforcement and court sides of the facility.
Additional interview rooms — for detectives to speak with subjects or victims — also comes with the addition, as does a private room for attorneys to speak with their clients.
While Tuesday’s tour was available to select city officials and thew news media, Chief Watts said an official open house is scheduled for October 18.