Several lack-of-space issues for the Pratt County Sheriff's Office will soon be solved with the completion of a new metal multipurpose building.
The new 60 feet by 90 feet Wicks Building will be located next to the noxious weed building. It is scheduled for quick construction and should be complete by the middle of February, said Pratt County Sheriff Vernon Chinn.
The sheriff's office has very little storage space and none for seized vehicles. If vehicles are involved in a crime, they may have to be stored in a rented building and that can get very expensive.
One vehicle was held in impound for 18 months and cost the department $16,000.
Having storage space is important when processing a vehicle involved in a crime. It provides climate controlled access to the vehicle whether it is summer or winter.
Now, if the sheriff's office needs to process a vehicle they have to move a patrol vehicle out of the sheriff's garage space at the Law Enforcement Center, Chinn said.
That makes it difficult to bring prisoners into the LEC or move them to another location.
The storage facility will provide room for processing vehicles plus additional storage space for other sheriff's office equipment that is currently kept at three other locations around Pratt.
The building will also help met some of the county disaster criteria.
All of the county emergency equipment is in a three-block area right now. After the Greensburg tornado disaster in 2007 when Kiowa County lost all their vehicles, the emergency plans were changed so that in the event of a natural disaster not everything would be destroyed because the storage areas would be several miles apart, Chinn said.
The building will not be totally finished but in a disaster situation it could be used as a control center and allow emergency services to continue operations.
"It is a plan B if we have to evacuate this (LEC) building," Chinn said.
After reviewing the emergency needs, the city commissioners agreed that since the land was available the building should be built.
Another use for the building is providing a work area to re-equip department vehicles. Every year the department will re-equip three vehicles including swapping out light-bars, sirens and other special equipment.
The new facility will allow them put a vehicle inside for the re-equip and leave it there until the job is done. They do not have to take up garage space. This alone will save the department several thousand dollars a year, Chinn said.
Besides the building, a fenced in area will provide outdoors storage for other items too big for inside storage.
But the building will have functions than just maintenance and processing. It will provide an alternative meeting place during joint law enforcement event operations.
Had this building been available after the 2002 tornado, it would have provided a much more workable space for all the agencies to meet and work together.
"This is something the sheriff's office needed before I became sheriff," Chinn said. "It's been long overdue."