Local News

Durham police headquarters is falling apart

Posted November 16, 2010

— Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez invited the public to his headquarters on Tuesday, knowing they would walk away with a bad impression.

The building is literally falling apart.

“My hope is they see it in its reality,” Lopez said.

Granite columns are being held onto the outside of building with straps. Other columns could fall at any moment, Durham Police Senior Planner Lew Wardell said.

“One of them could detach and fall five stories,” Wardell said.

A section of brick on the back of the building has already fallen into a stairwell. No one was injured.

Inside the building, Wardell said space is tight.

An office chair just beyond the lobby is for prisoners just brought in.

“If the guy tries to leave, he is going to leave,” Wardell said.

People reclaiming stolen property walk by a desk where evidence is being handled.

“Packaging, sawed-off shotguns, drugs, money – again it is a very risky mix,” Wardell said.

A pipe burst in the wall is draining water down into an evidence storage room.

“At any point in time, we could have a major failure here,” Lopez said.

Durham Police Senior Planner Lew Wardell Durham police chief wants new headquarters

The headquarters, at 505 W. Chapel Hill St., was built in 1958 for an insurance company. Durham police moved into it in 1991.

Moving to another building would be an expensive project. Lopez said he knows economic times are tough, but he said it is essential to keep the city safe.

“Right now, we have to work as best we can with what we have. We want to be able to better serve this community,” Lopez said.

A consultant is working to determine what a new headquarters might look like. Those findings are expected to be completed in a few months.


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  • Vietnam Vet Nov 17, 2010

    I've got an idea... Have Raleigh give them their plans for the new Public Safety Center they keep trying to ram down Raleigh Citizen's throats and Durham can do the same thing there, and spend millions of dollars they don't have either and the taxpayers can again take up the slack.

  • supernik87 Nov 17, 2010

    This building does desperately need to be replaced soon. Though I really think they should have just replaced it years ago instead of renovating it like they did.

    And fyi, to the many people making comments on here about Durham's recent decision to accept the Matricula Consular, 1) it has absolutely NOTHING to do with building a new police station, 2) most cities in this country have accepted it for years, even the State of Arizona accepts it, and 3) it makes no assumptions about legal status at all, it only proves identity, so it can't even be considered in an immigration debate.

  • FromClayton Nov 17, 2010

    oh i got it. charge a $25 service fee to everyone convicted who was first brought into that building. iy's durham so they should have money for a new place in no time....

  • Sherlock Nov 17, 2010

    Duck Tape is on sale again check local hardware store.

  • gingerlynn Nov 17, 2010

    HAHAHA Trabman-san! They should make the offices the hybrid busses. When Durham got the busses it was decided by the convention and visitor's bureau or some other wise government agency, to cover the entire busses with advertising skin. Why, so NO ONE WOULD BE ABLE TO SEE FOR SURE that they are driving around town every twenty minutes empty!

  • 68_dodge_polara Nov 17, 2010

    Durham city wants to merge with what it left of the county, which basically means the county residents will pay the same taxes as city residents only without city sewer and water. If you think this sounds good just look at the schools after the city/county merger, now they're all awful.

  • btneast Nov 17, 2010

    Yes, they are different but pretty much the same.

    Not really, Durham County has a lot more on the ball than the city, not that that is a whole lot to brag about.

  • davidbh61255 Nov 17, 2010

    Yes, they are different but pretty much the same.

  • ncguy71 Nov 17, 2010

    "But Durham Co can afford to pay bonuses to employees." Animal Lover

    The Police Dept. building is not owned by the County - it is owned by the "City." The County has nothing to do with it.

  • wildcat Nov 17, 2010

    I guess what they are really saying is they need a new building.