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Urban renewal by the city\'s finest: Wayne State restores Albert Kahn masterpiece to create high-tech police headquarters on campus

June 20, 2008

Move hailed as a natural step in department's evolution as a top law enforcement presence in the city of Detroit.

Wayne State University's Police Department (WSUPD) today announced the grand opening of its new high-tech headquarters, an Albert Kahn-designed, historic terra-cotta building originally constructed in 1924.

Located at 6050 Cass Avenue, in Detroit's New Amsterdam Historic District, the 33,260 gross square-foot structure is home to WSUPD's 54 police officers and 44 civilian employees.

"This facility resonates with the historic grandeur of the neighborhood and the outstanding reputation of our police department," said Wayne State University President Irvin D. Reid. "The Wayne State Police Department is among the nation's finest in terms of technology, training and performance. The highly trained, dedicated men and women of our police force finally have the superlative headquarters they deserve."

The regional and national reputation of the WSUPD can be measured by the number of career-minded recruits that have joined the department specifically to work for a highly regarded professional agency. They receive metropolitan policing experience and an advanced degree, and then move on to other law enforcement agencies nationwide. Thirty-two former Wayne State police officers have attained the rank of chief executive officer in other law enforcement agencies nationally and dozens more high ranking positions in local, state and federal law enforcement agencies including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Administration and Border Patrol.

Since the original building was completed more than 80 years ago, the structure has undergone several renovations and various uses, including the first owner who used it as a speedometer factory and showroom. Years of renovations had covered much of the building's interior character.

During the recent reconstruction project, some of the features that were regenerated to return some of the original 1924 feel are the central grand stair, large skylight above the central stair and clerestory, rich wood and marble wall treatments, terrazzo flooring, ornamental plaster column capitals and cornices and high ceilings.

The design challenge evolving from the restoration process was how to integrate the security and technological functions of the police department into this environment without jeopardizing the aesthetic and historical quality. A new dispatch center within the facility is the most technologically advanced space in the building, and includes some of the latest police technology in the nation.

"During the planning process for our new facility, we insisted that two major goals be considered in the design stage including security and safety for our visitors, and the latest technology available to police departments," said Anthony Holt, Wayne State University chief of police. "This building reflects those goals offering to the university community and Detroit area an outstanding police facility that also reflects our mission."

Among other amenities included in the facility are fiber optic and wireless internet access, an electronics repair shop, secure indoor parking for marked WSUPD patrol vehicles, K9 indoor/outdoor quarters, three holding cells, which includes a juvenile cell, a large multi-purpose room with overhead media projection system, a gymnasium and various secure rooms for evidence and weapons lockup. The records storage center has movable high density cabinets for more compact storage.

WSUPD officers will continue to receive ongoing extensive training at the new location, a benchmark that has been maintained since the department's founding in 1966. Following the Virginia Tech shootings, WSU's police officers have received more than 3,000 hours of tactical police training, including the department's active shooter drill with the Detroit Police Department (DPD). Officers also have trained with the DPD Special Response Team. Weekly training days have been enforced to maintain the high level of skills necessary to accomplish best results for various policing scenarios.

All WSUPD officers are fully licensed by the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement Standards and are sworn Peace Officers under state law (Public Act 120). Additionally, each officer is commissioned by the Chief of Police as a Detroit Police Officer with full police authority within the City of Detroit, under the provisions of the Detroit City Charter.

The department, which provides the university community with police service 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, requires a bachelor's degree for all officer applicants, a policy maintained since the department's inception. WSUPD was only the second department in the country to enforce this requirement.

Several safety and crime prevention workshops for both the Detroit-area community and Wayne State's students, faculty and staff are offered by the department. Officers work closely with the Detroit Police Department, Wayne County Sheriff's Department and the Michigan State Police. "We take a community-oriented approach to law enforcement, knowing that partnerships and cooperation are needed to ensure protection of persons and property," Holt said.

The presence of WSU's police department in the surrounding community and Cass neighborhood is prominent as the well-lit structure serves as a beacon of light 24 hours daily.

Wayne State University is a premier institution of higher education offering more than 350 academic programs through 11 schools and colleges to more than 33,000 students.