Tour of the PSOTC redefines expectations
When I think about a typical police station, visions of a surly desk sergeant in the lobby, holding cells, and a “bull pen” packed with desks come to mind. Maybe I’ve watched too many cop shows, but that was my expectation when I headed into the new Public Safety Operations and Training Center located at 3500 DB Wood Road.
But even before I went in, the center’s exterior, a modern mixture of stone, metal, and windows stretching along the walls, started chipping away my television-inspired preconceptions. The PSOTC opened this past February and houses the police department and their civilian counterparts as well as fire department administration.
Cool, airy openness greeted me as I entered the lobby. White tile floors and a few chairs anchored the lofty two-story ceiling. To the left, friendly VIPs (Volunteer in Police Service) checked me in. I donned my yellow visitor’s badge and set out on a guided tour of the PSOTC.
Past the lobby, where fire department administration and police records have their offices, the building spreads out into two main wings. I ventured left through keycard-protected doors to the training wing. Walking past classrooms and offices, I was struck by the modern aesthetic of the break room: a streamlined kitchenette on one wall and floor-to-ceiling windows (53 by my count) on the other two. A handful of café tables and chairs completed the picture.
Across the lobby was another set of double keycard-protected doors. The moment they opened, my jaw dropped a bit. The tile walkway stretched nearly a hundred yards ahead of me, and the soaring red ceiling, with its long rectangular lights, reinforced the sleek, modern lines of the building. Doors along the right wall led to Dispatch, Emergency Operations Center (the hub for significant event coordination in the city), and upper level police “brass.” To the left, open-air stairwells led me down to patrol division, crime scene offices, evidence processing, a well-designed gym, locker rooms, and a kitchen.
No matter where I looked, rooms buzzed with computers, flat-screen TVs, and other techno-gadgets I couldn’t identify. Any lingering images I had about what a police station was flew out one of the Level D Impact Resistant windows (able to withstand 168+ mph winds).
Beyond the architecture and the technology, personal touches like family pictures, personal mementos, awards, and even a few whimsical pictures of donuts adorned the walls and offices of Georgetown’s finest. But I saw one constant everywhere. Beside each door, a placard read, “Be the Standard.” The inspiring quote comes from the department’s vision statement: “To be the standard in law enforcement through leadership, innovation, and a commitment to excellence.”
The innovation and commitment to excellence are carried out on the grounds, too. Outside, I viewed a separate tactical building designed for reality-based training using modular rooms to hone officers’ practical skills, ranging from holding dialogues while under stress to deploying advanced tactical skills for situations like hostage rescues.
My tour’s last stop was the driving track. Shaped like an 8, the track, along with a large parking lot, allows a closed environment to practice various scenarios and tactics. But the track isn’t just for driving. Patrol officers’ competitive spirit came out when they created the “Georgetown 800”—a one-lap sprint around the top half of the 8 (one circle is about 800 feet) in full uniform with no warm-up.
After trekking back to the lobby (I was glad I’d worn comfortable shoes) and returning my visitor’s badge, I came to a conclusion. The modern architecture, up-to-date technology, and people behind the personal touches around the PSOTC changed my expectations of what a police station should be. No more cop-show police departments for me—from now on, the PSOTC is my standard.
A Look at the Numbers
As one of the nation’s fastest growing cities, Georgetown built the new PSOTC with the present and future in mind. The facility’s modern design and state-of-the-art technology ensure that first responders have a great facility where they can train and build their skills.
Total cost to build the PSOTC—it came under budget!
Total square footage of the main building
Fastest “Georgetown 800” time, held by Patrol Sergeant Aaron White
The Georgetown 800 is one loop around half of the figure-eight driving track in full uniform with no warm-up. It’s meant to simulate a foot pursuit.
Number of acres the PSOTC occupies
Number of feet from the main lobby entrance to Police Chief Nero’s offices
Numbers of staff the PSOTC is designed to house at any given time on the first and second floors respectively, excluding Emergency Operations Center personnel in times of natural disasters