New police building to provide much-needed space

Darleen Principe

Inside Joy McConnell’s office, there is a wall lined with file cabinets containing police reports, traffic citations, court subpoenas and other important police records. McConnell, records administrator of CSUN’s Public Safety Department, is responsible for dealing with a great number of forms that go to the department daily.

McConnell’s full file cabinets force her to find other ways to store records, such as stacking papers and folders and placing them strategically around her office.

When McConnell comes to work, however, she spends each day confined inside a CSUN dorm room.

Currently, the Public Safety Department is headquartered in building 14 at CSUN’s residential housing.

CSUN PD employees, however, hope to start moving into their new offices by Dec. 29 in the new two-story, 28,000 square foot Public Safety building being erected on Darby Street.

“It means space,” McConnell said. “I’ll be able to organize much better because I’ll have more room for it.”

The construction of the new public safety facility is part of the CSUN master plan that was updated after the Northridge earthquake in 1994, said Nat Wilson, campus architect.

The building will be the first one built on-campus to specifically house the department.

Wilson said that the contractors, S.C. Anderson, Inc., are on schedule with the 14-month-long construction. Since the groundbreaking in September 2005, there have been no major setbacks.

Wilson said the construction has stayed within the original $6.4 million budget – funds that originated from student parking fees and money from the University Corporation.

After the department moves into their new building, their old offices in the dorms will then be converted back into student housing.

The new building is not tied to any immediate plans of expansion for the department, said Christina Villalobos, CSUN PD spokesperson. Instead, the move would allow CSUN PD to have a larger and more specialized working space.

“The dorms aren’t outfitted for a police department,” Villalobos said. “The new facility will enable us to be fully equipped and much more functional.”

All the services that are currently being offered at the department will still be offered in the new building, but with easier accessibility, Villalobos said. All the community-based services, such as LiveScan fingerprinting and parking services will be located on the first floor through the lobby, she said.

The new building will also feature holding cells, which are not available in the dorm offices, Wilson said. The cells will allow officers to initially handle students on campus, instead of sending them directly to the city police department in the event of an arrest.

“It’s going to be great,” said Sergeant James Stotler, who is in charge of parking enforcement. “The university is moving us out of temporary quarters for the first time.”

Students will no longer have to search within the housing units to get to the department, he said.

Jim Villar, CSUN Financial Analyst, believes that the biggest advantage is the structure of the facility, which he hopes will increase efficiency within the department.

“There is a lot of walking for only day-to-day matters,” said Villar, who has to walk in and out of dorm rooms to communicate with his staff.

“The new facility will allow us to be more strategically connected to each other,” he said.

Aside from the functionality of the new building, department employees also believe that it will have a positive effect on their ability to serve CSUN and the community.

“I think it will be much easier for the community to have access to us,” Stotler said.