Joint Law Enforcement Center
The Fremont Police Department, Dodge County Sheriff’s Department and the 911 Communications Center are seeking your input on a Joint Law Enforcement Center. Due to failing infrastructure at the current Fremont Police Department building, the City has partnered with Dodge County to construct a new Joint Law Enforcement Center that would include the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department, the Fremont Police Department, and the 911 Communications Center.
Building a Joint Law Enforcement Center saves County and City tax payers money on commonly used space that both departments will use. The initial concept proposes constructing the Police Department and Communication Center first, while the Sheriff’s Department would add on at a later date. The location of the new Joint Law Enforcement Center would be in the Fremont Business Park at 29th and Lincoln Road.
Preliminary estimates reflect a cost of approximately $18 million. The City’s portion is estimated between $10-$11 million, which is roughly the same cost as refurbishing the existing Fremont Police Department building.
Public meetings are scheduled for 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 7, 2020 on the second floor of the City Municipal Building at 400 E Military Avenue and Thursday, July 16, 2020 in the first floor training room at the Fremont Police Department at 725 N Park Avenue. Preliminary drawings of the proposed facility will be posted on the City’s website in the next couple of weeks. The Sheriff, the Chief of Police, the Director of Communications, as well as the architect will be available to answer questions at the public meetings. We will also be taking public comments both online and at each public meeting. We encourage the public to attend and we are eager to hear your thoughts about the proposed new facility.
Download the project information sheet to learn more about the need, the benefits, the process, and the timing of the proposed Joint Law Enforcement Center.
Take a virtual tour of the Fremont Police Department here. The Question and Answer sheet regarding the Joint Law Enforcement Center can be downloaded here and is also shown below.
Public comments can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments can also be mailed or delivered to the City Clerk at 400 East Military Avenue, Fremont, NE 68025.
Dodge County Sheriff’s Department – Fremont Police Department – 911 Communications
Joint Law Enforcement Center – Question and Answer
Q: Why build a new facility, can the existing building be renovated?
A: The existing Fremont Police Department facility could be renovated; however, the most recent evaluation of the Police Department, done in 2017, estimated just over $8 million for renovation. Construction costs increase an average of 3-5% annually. Current construction costs for renovation are estimated at $9-$10 million. In addition, renovating the existing facility does not leave the City with any future expansion possibilities because the building takes up the entire lot. The Sheriff’s Department has outgrown their space and needs to relocate in order to maintain efficient operations and to expand. With renovation costs nearly the same as new construction costs and the interest of the Dodge County Sheriff to work together on a new facility has led efforts to explore the construction of a Joint Law Enforcement Center.
Q: Who owns the Fremont Business Park?
A: Most of the Fremont Business Park is owned by the City; however, where the Joint Law Enforcement Center is proposed to be built, Dodge County and the City jointly own the parcel. At the December 11, 2018 City Council meeting, City Council unanimously approved the sale of half of Outlot A to Dodge County and executed an interlocal agreement which states,
‘...it is in the best interest of the County of Dodge, Nebraska (hereinafter referred to as “Dodge County”) and the public safety of the citizens of Dodge County to participate in the planning of a joint public service center (hereinafter referred to as “Joint Public Service Center” with the City of Fremont, Nebraska (hereinafter referred to as the “City”); and….
Q: Would this replace the current police building now, on Military and Park? What would the City do with that building?
A: The Joint Law Enforcement Center would replace the existing Police Department building and the Dodge County Sheriff’s building. Many considerations are being given as to what the future of both buildings would look like, but there are too many unknowns as this time to be able to answer that question.
Q: Why was this location chosen? Should the Center be centrally located?
A: A portion of the Fremont Business Park, Outlot A, located at 29th and Lincoln Street was chosen for the Joint Law Enforcement Center for several reasons:
- The property was already owned by the City of Fremont, utilizing this location would prevent the additional cost of purchasing an alternate site.
- The practice of providing law enforcement services does not require a department to be centrally located. Law enforcement officers are patrolling the City and County the majority of their shift. They respond to calls from wherever they are at that moment.
- The site allows for future expansion.
Q: Why are you asking for public input when construction has already begun?
A: Construction of this project has not begun. On April 28, 2020, City Council was asked to consider the award of the architectural contract and design fees up to 35% design stage. Council approved a modified version of Resolution 2020-083 that included several instructions. First, to pause after 15% of the building design was complete at the schematic level of design. Second, allow time for public comments on the schematic drawings. And third, Council approval was required before the City could move forward with final design development. We are currently at the 15% level. Unfortunately, when a project is only at 15% schematic design stage, it is difficult to show the public what the building is going to look like. Many things, in regards to floor plan and design, will change before the final plans are approved. Although limited schematic designs are available for public review, it doesn’t change the purpose of the project.
Q: Is a jail going to be included in this project? How much more will it cost to transport people from the new facility to the courthouse for court appearances?
A: No, a jail is not included in this project. Currently, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Department contracts with Saunders County for incarceration services. In the future, should Dodge County decide to build its own jail, the proposed site for the Joint Law Enforcement Center is large enough for a jail.
Q: Where is the money from the 23rd Street overpass bond issue?
A: The bonds were never issued for the 23rd Street overpass. The third paragraph of the ballot question states:
“A vote for this proposition will authorize the City of Fremont to acquire right of way for viaduct, to enter into contracts for the construction of the viaduct, to solicit and receive federal and state funds for construction of the viaduct, and to issue bonds in an amount not to exceed $2,900,000 first payable from previously authorized sales tax revenue.”
The City did not enter into contracts for construction, nor did it issue any bonds for this project. There was no new sales tax imposed for this bond issue.
Q: Other projects should take priority, like Broad Street.
A: Currently Broad Street is not the City’s responsibility as it is a State Highway under the jurisdiction of the Nebraska Department of Transportation. When the SE Beltway is complete, sometime in 2023 or 2024, the State will transfer the responsibility to the City, but not until that time. In the meantime, the State is responsible to maintain and repair Broad Street.
Q: Columbus kept their police department downtown, why can’t we?
A: The project in Columbus had a couple of differences. The first difference is that there was an entire city block available for them to build on. We value our downtown but the space isn’t available. There is no place to build unless we give up parks or something else becomes available. This would also end our partnership with the Sheriff’s Department to build a joint law enforcement center. The City and County already own land together at the proposed site which helps reduce the overall cost. Secondly; Columbus Police stayed in their building during the construction phase of their Police Department. The City of Columbus had purchased the land prior to the build just as Fremont and Dodge County have done.
Q: Why has this project taken so long?
A: The feasibility and comparison of renovating the existing Fremont Police Department or constructing a new facility was first studied in 2014. The most recent study from 2017 shows that the cost of a new facility that would fully meet the needs of the Department and allow for future expansion is nearly the same as renovating the existing building. With the partnership of Dodge County in 2018, a new facility to house both departments is more economical for taxpayers rather than building a new facility for each department or renovating existing facilities. Further delay will only result in higher costs. The decision to renovate the existing facility will only benefit the Fremont Police Department and only suffice for a short amount of time. As our community grows, so will our public safety needs, which will require more space. This project has been under consideration for several years, the need has never been greater to make a decision and move forward.
Q: Is the shooting range going to be a part of this project?
A: No, the shooting range is not part of the project. The Police Department has an opportunity to have access to a shooting range being built by the federal government in Saunders County.
FREMONT - SITE PLAN-3
Site Plan July 15 2020