Lafayette Police Department settles into new home


On a warm spring day, Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski left his office in City Hall to check on the progress of the new Public Safety Center on Columbia Street.

“The new sign was up,” Roswarski recalls. “It made me feel like, ‘This is a big city.’ That looked impressive.”

“Impressive” is just one of many adjectives used to describe the spacious home of the Lafayette Police Department. 

“Cleaner, bigger,” was Chief of Police Scott Galloway’s assessment.

“Challenging,” says Tom Morlan, senior project manager for Kettelhut Construction, Inc.

“State of the art,” adds Dan McCloskey, senior project architect for American Structurepoint, Inc.

Let’s start with “challenging,” a word also used by McCloskey when describing the task of turning Roswarski’s vision into a building that reflects a forward-thinking, growing community while also honoring the historical context of downtown Lafayette into reality.

How do you design a building to meet the growing needs of a police department while making it welcoming for the public that helped pay for the $51 million project?

“This was accomplished by providing secure parking for police officers and staff, designing bullet-resistant barriers that are not perceptible to the general public, creating accessible, welcoming public spaces that offer opportunities for officers and the community to interact, and many other aspects that create a safe environment for staff and visitors,” McCloskey says.

If that seems simple, it wasn’t.

“American Structurepoint and Architects Design Group had to design the building for a variety of visitors, including people who are victims of crime that are seeking assistance from the police,” McCloskey says. “For example, a safe room is located near the first floor entrance where people can seek immediate assistance from police personnel. There is also a separate victims’ advocate entrance with soft spaces … that are welcoming with calming colors, lighting and furniture that evoke a sense of working together for families and children that need a safe, comfortable space in which to interact with police staff.”

Roswarski also insisted on spaces that would permit more than just police business. 

A community room on the second floor that can accommodate up to 100 guests. An outdoor plaza with a pergola and seating area for live entertainment and movie screenings. All are accessible by an outside set of steps so that it won’t be necessary to go through the police department.

“We want it to be like Riehle Plaza, another community gathering space,” Roswarski says. “We want people to come down to the amenity deck, sit out there and eat their lunch.”

McCloskey’s firm also designed solar panels, installed by Lafayette’s Huston Solar, to offset a portion of the Public Safety Center’s energy use. The building also is home to electric charging stations and a green roof area with lush plantings, lawns and pavers.

It would take 23 months and approximately 300,000 manhours, Morlan estimates, for Kettelhut to construct the Public Safety Center. The first step was demolition of existing buildings and preserving the brick façade from the old Horner Building.

“We … took it apart brick by brick by brick and then rebuilt it,” Roswarski says. “The bricks were numbered. We couldn’t save the building, but we wanted to save a piece of that history and remember a piece of that history. That was the level of commitment that we went to to make sure what we did really was good for downtown also.”

Another historical era was unearthed by Kettelhut workers early in the construction process. The Dryfus Theatre once resided on the site before the opera house was destroyed in a 1914 fire.

“At the time, much of the debris was buried within the footprint of the old building,” Morlan says. “During excavation of the site there were some unplanned delays for removal of unsuitable debris left from the fire.”

Kettelhut also dealt with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. That included supply chain and logistics challenges, material fabrication delays and labor shortages.

One more challenge noticed by the Greater Lafayette community was the restrictions imposed on Sixth and Seventh streets.

“The building footprint essentially took up the entire property,” Morlan says. “A lot of coordination with neighbors, community and city departments was required to move all the materials, people and equipment onto the property over several years.”

“State of the art”

Part of American Structurepoint’s design included crime prevention technology. The Analysis and Response Center (ARC) is the hub of the Lafayette Police Department’s special operations division and criminal intelligence.

“With real-time access to city-operated security cameras and police body cams, officers in the ARC can respond to criminal activity and monitor major events efficiently,” McCloskey says. 

The needs of law enforcement have changed since Roswarski joined the Lafayette Police Department more than 40 years ago.

“We basically had three radio channels – F1, F2 and ‘Eileen,’ which connected us to the state,” says Roswarski, who rose through the ranks to captain before winning his first term as mayor in 2003.

“When we look at the ability to be more efficient, when we look at the ability to use technology, whether it’s in dispatch, whether it’s in the ARC, whether it’s the way we are able to process property, evidence, bar coding, all those types of things … hopefully it will make the officer’s job easier, make it more efficient, less stressful.”

Roswarski believes the technology will allow officers to actually patrol the streets and interact with the citizens they’ve sworn to protect.

Galloway could barely contain his excitement when giving a tour of the Public Safety Center shortly before the May 24 dedication ceremony.

“For a city our size, this is the most technologically advanced and largest police department (facility) in the country,” Galloway says. “This is a tip of the hat to how much the city and our community respects and wants to have good public safety.”

Galloway hopes that the Public Safety Center could be a recruiting tool. At the time of its grand opening, the Lafayette Police Department was 30 officers shy of a full force.

“If you go to a football recruit and you’re between two schools, what the training room looks like and the weight room looks like matters,” says Galloway, whose force includes former Central Catholic and Purdue standout Danny Anthrop.

“We think that if young people see this department and how much we care about our staff and policing, this could be a draw for people.”

“Cleaner, bigger”

The expansion of City Hall in 1995 included a renovation of the police department spaces.

“We outgrew that building before it opened,” Galloway says. “People were doubled up in offices. I knew this even as a rookie officer: that building was not constructed to be a police department. It’s not safe.”

Like so many of us who have more stuff than space, the Lafayette Police Department had to find ways around that problem. The training center at 1301 South St. became “a hub,” Galloway says.

“If you are familiar with ‘Apollo 13,’ I considered that our LM (Lunar Module). It helped us get to the point where we could have this building. This is a police department, not a renovated office building.”

Every time Galloway steps into his office, with an unobstructed view down Columbia Street to the Wabash River, he is reminded how far the police department has come from the cramped spaces across Sixth Street.

Galloway’s favorite aspect of the Public Safety Center is the Sally port, a concept that dates back to Great Britain in the 1600s. A Sally port is a secure, controlled entrance into an enclosure such as a prison or a fortification. 

“As an officer I was so conscientious of somebody escaping from the car or getting in a fight in the middle of the road out here,” Galloway says. “I think that is an incredible advancement we didn’t have before. I love our guys being safe around suspects who could hurt them. The Sally port serves that.”

In addition to the ARC, Roswarski’s favorite part of the Public Safety Center is the dispatch center. The previous dispatch personnel were housed in the basement of City Hall. No windows. No natural light.

“That’s really the nerve center of the police department with all the calls coming in,” Roswarski says. “To get those folks into a new facility with new desks and some natural light is a huge win and very important.”

Looking to the future

With the police department now calling the Public Safety Center home, what will happen to the space it occupied in City Hall?

The fire command will depart its Fourth Street location and move into a remodeled first floor.

“For the first time in our history, we’ll have a true public safety campus,” Roswarski says. “The second story, we are going to do some remodeling. We are about out of space over here. This will create additional space for the engineer’s office, the city attorney and purchasing.”

Plans for the basement remain undecided.

Railroad Relocation was the signature legacy of six-term Mayor James Riehle, who served from 1971 to 1995. Will the Public Safety Center become most identified with Roswarski’s tenure?

“That’s an interesting comparison,” says Roswarski, who is seeking his sixth consecutive term in 2023. “Certainly in my mind it’s my largest project that we’ve done to this point and probably the most significant. We’ve built the baseball stadium. We’ve moved the Pearl River sewer. In the early 2000s we mined a tunnel underneath downtown 3,000 feet long, 30 feet in the ground, 10 foot in diameter. That was a very, very significant project. 

“When I think back to even all of those, in my mind this is the most significant project. Being a retired police officer, it has a special place for me. I think that it’s one I’m going to look back on with the most pride.”  ★