by SC Associate Publisher Chuck Larsen
The Sanibel Police Department is facing a significant challenge in expanding its police and emergency management facility on the ground level and main floor at Sanibel City Hall. The proposed city budget for next year states “the department is being used beyond its original capacity and in order to provide basic public safety services an addition to the facility is imperative.”
When the Sanibel Police Department was formed in 1974, at the city’s inception, it was just a daytime-only department with a few male officers. There were less than 3,000 residents on the island at that time compared to the 7,351 residents, according to the most recent census tally. Throughout the past 44 years, the police department has grown to 30 officers and 30 civilian employees.
Currently, the police department does not have space for a training room or locker room facilities for personnel. There is a temporary trailer in the parking lot for police aids handling parking and traffic. And as the number of female officers has increased, there is a trailer serving as their locker room.
Police Chief Willaim Dalton says plans are to expand by building out a new space underneath the building in the parking overhang. The expanded space will house new men’s and women’s locker rooms, and a training room facility. Once completed, the ground floor space that is currently used as a squad room, would be renovated for much-needed office space.
City Finance Director Steven Chaipel reports city council has approved $200,000 for a design and engineering study for the expansion. When that phase is completed, the actual cost of the project will then become a capital expenditure for council consideration in the future.