Norwood Police looks for expanded headquarters

During a town budget workshop, Norwood Police Chief James Wilson made a presentation to the town council about needing a new police headquarters.

With the approval of the council, Wilson and the department are moving forward with the process.

Wilson said the town is talking to Norwood Presbyterian Church, located across the street from the town hall, to purchase part of its property between the church and Norwood Post Office.

He said he spoke before the church’s session, like a board of directors, which approved the idea, but the church as a whole will have to give its approval before the plans can move forward.

The chief said he and the town have created a citizen committee, who have plans to tour other police departments to try and get ideas for the new building. He said the building process would begin potentially with an architect and engineer.

Norwood PD has been in its current building, formerly a gas station, since 2001, well before Wilson joined the department. When it was updated to contain the police department, the town only had six officers. Norwood now has 10 officers and two canines.

Wilson said with the expected growth of the town, including new housing, he believes the department will have to expand in the next five years.

“We’re completely out of room now,” Wilson said.

The chief said the department needs more room for officers along with evidence storage and a professional meeting room. He said another need is for a secured parking area for the town’s police cars.

In terms of funding, the chief said Norwood will attempt to get grants from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), which has grants for law enforcement buildings.

“Obviously, it’s going to be an expensive venture, and we’re going to try to offset the cost as much as we can,” Wilson said. “(A new building) is something we’ve desperately needed. With the growth of our town, if we wait five, 10 years to do this, we’re going to be behind.”

Speaking for the town’s staff, Town Administrator Scott Howard said the staff was “pleased that several citizens volunteered to be part of the exploration committee to look into the construction of a new police department building. The police has outgrown the converted gas station they currently occupy. That, along with the fact that Norwood is starting a great growth spurt in which the town will eventually need more services, including police protection, it is time to be proactive and start the research and planning.”