COLUMBUS – Former Police Chief William Gumm says the new public safety centers going before voters are a must have, for the community.
The city of Columbus currently has the funds in place to build new fire and police stations, but need the voters to approve the use of those funds on May 15th.
Gumm says the buildings currently being used for Fire and Police operations are unsuitable for the public safety operators to be able to do their jobs.
“I can’t speak directly to the fire station, although it’s easily probably one hundred years old, and been used for many things, and the police station, we don’t know exactly but it’s probably 50 years old or plus. Neither one of those buildings were designed for today’s public safety needs, services, operation equipment and so you can only modify something so many times before it becomes impossible,” says Gumm.
The police station, which used to operate as a bank, and the fire station, which is currently suffering from structural issues that need repair, are not going to be able to house Columbus Police and Fire staff members long term, says Gumm.
“I would urge the voting public to seriously consider the needs of the public safeties, police and fire for the next 20 to 25 years,” says Gumm.
Gumm says the current role of police has expanded vastly since his early days as an officer.
“The things that are put on officers, by court decisions, attorneys, they are required to do more and more to obtain the same goal, and so we need to provide them the necessary equipment and space to do that,” says Gumm.
Current Police Chief Chuck Sherer said during a town hall meeting on Tuesday, that evidence, including blood and drug evidence, has to be stored in separate locations around Columbus because they don’t have room to store it in their current facility. The new police station will also offer a gated parking lot for officers, and a sally port, which will allow police to drive into a secured location when booking criminals, says Sherer. Those problems and more will be solved in the new building, says both Sherer and Gumm.