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Renovated Western District Police Station helps community and police find common ground

Timothy Cox | 8/18/2017, 6 a.m.
When the Western District Police Station re-opened its doors on July 12, 2017, the newly renovated precinct located at 1034 ...
Newly renovated Western District Police Station Dennis Roberts

When the Western District Police Station re-opened its doors on July 12, 2017, the newly renovated precinct located at 1034 North Mount Street in Baltimore now represents a renewed and fresh outlook for police and the community, in more ways than one.

Dennis Roberts

In addition to the obvious upgrades the $4.5 million project provided to the nearly 60-year old brick and mortar facility, the improvements also resulted in finding common ground between law enforcement and its community element. While the national spotlight shined on Baltimore during the spring of 2015, during the controversial death of Baltimore resident Freddy Gray, in addition to several Baltimore officers being charged in connection with Gray’s unfortunate death— the Western District Police Station became the focus of community anger, protests and civil uprising.

According to Baltimore police officials, the old Western District station represented an “unwelcoming fortress with towering pillars and locked doors.” The removal of these real and symbolic barriers allows a vibrant, energetic space to emerge and the transformation of the former building enables conversations between all parties, police and the community.

Finding common ground in the scope of this project was “key to its potential success,” according to Scott Plank, founder, War Horse Cities CDC, the primary developer and financial overseer of the project.

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Major Sheree Briscoe, Baltimore Police Department Western District.

Eric Stocklin/Courtesy BPD

Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis and Major Sheree Briscoe, Baltimore Police Department Western District.

“Our reflection and deep conversations with stakeholders made it clear that the project needed assets to attract and retain great police officers and provide gathering spaces to bridge deep divides and increase interaction between law enforcement and the Western District community,” said Plank.

"The Western District has long represented the hopes and challenges of our city,” said Baltimore Police Commissioner Kevin Davis. "The police district station now reflects our community and organizational values, and its new appearance and modern amenities will attract residents and police alike as we strive for a new day— one made possible by our business and community partners." Baltimore City Mayor Catherine Pugh mirrored Commissioner Davis’ remarks.

“The Western District Police Station renovation is a prime example how real change can be made through strong public-private partnerships. Tackling violence in Baltimore requires unique strategies and collaboration between the state, city and our business leaders,” said Mayor Pugh. “We need everyone engaged in this fight with us— neighborhoods, the police department, the faith-based community, city agencies, and everyday citizens. This project will make a real difference in the lives of those on the front lines fighting for the future of our city.”

As part of the Baltimore Police Collaborative Public Safety Project, the Western District Police Station draws on Plank's experience in urban planning, and workplace and hospitality space programming to bring the latest in customer-centric design to Baltimore City public service facilities.

While utilizing Plank’s retail and hospitality industry experience, the updated $4.5 million station is organized around the guest experiences of three “customers;” (1) visitors to the station, (2) police officers and administrators, and (3) those who are in custody. Using the six pillars of President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing as a guide, the Baltimore Police Collaborative Public Safety Project reinvented the Western District Station as a beacon of trust and safety that reflects a culture of respect, understanding and transparency.