By Everett Brazil, III
The Newkirk Herald Journal
NEWKIRK — A large steel structure has slowly been rising off the ground at Eighth and Maple, the frame of a new building that will house all of Newkirk’s first responder services in one facility to streamline emergency responses to the community. Once completed, the Public Safety Center will house the Newkirk Police Department (NPD) and Fire Department (NFD) for more effective community support. The Public Safety Center is expected to be finished in only a few months, and it will be one of the biggest benefits to the community in recent memory.
For those looking forward to a New Year, it is a chance to move forward, and that is totally true for police and fire operations.
“It’ll be nice to be in the new building. We’ll have more room, and better, updated equipment,” said NPD Chief Kevin Main. “We’re looking at a new start, with younger, eager new officers.”
The NFD is just as excited, themselves checking the work daily while preparing their own move to the new facility.
“We’re beyond excited. Every firefighter and medic, almost daily, we walk across the street to see what got accomplished,” said Fire Chief Adam Longcrier. “Just over a year, to see what they built, that is exciting for the NFD and NPD.”
The Safety Center has been in the works for many years and is expected to greatly improve operations for both departments. All emergency personnel and vehicles will be housed in the facility, reducing weather wear on the vehicles. It will also feature state-of-the-art technology, including the latest in weather technology to keep the responders warned ahead of dangerous storms. Should a storm hit and cut power to Newkirk, they will have a backup system and be able to keep the city running, even in a state-of-emergency.
Individual departments also see a benefit of their own. For the NPD, that includes a new program where they can track individuals across the state, known as Offender Data Information System, or “ODIS.”
“There are 287 agencies in Oklahoma that are connected to that program, and we’ll be able to track people better and share with other agencies,” Main said.
It will also decrease tax dollars to operate the facility, which includes powering a single facility, versus two, and the new technology will also help decrease costs.
“There will be a benefit to the taxpayers, and that will be an efficient building,” Longcrier said. “Our current building is cooled by window units, and this will reduce what the city has to pay for the building alone, electricity.”
The view of the building, once completed, will also have a positive impact Downtown.
“It is a bright, new building that the city and citizens can be proud of,” Longcrier said.
The Public Safety Center is expected to be finished by April, but Newkirk’s first responders are already planning activities in the center, training within its walls that they didn’t have before. Maybe that is the best effect of the structure, to not only have a new facility, but help plan and train for events in rooms they never had before. That itself will not only greatly affect Newkirk but surrounding departments, who will also take part in that training.
“I think it’ll bring in departments from around the area,” Longcrier said. “We’ll be able to hold new training here at our station, and there are things we’re already planning for August and September, even if we aren’t in it yet.”