Building Community Policing From the Ground Up

use of force image Can a police department’s building design support the primary elements of community policing? Can a building enhance citizen trust in police? Can a building facilitate information-sharing within itself and in the community? The Milliken (Colorado) Police Department thinks so.

Dubbed the “hub of Northern Colorado”1, the town of Milliken’s population has doubled since 2001. With signs of continued population growth on the horizon, the Milliken Police Department needs to move its operations from its 80-year old headquarters with less than 1,000 square feet of space, to a new building that can accommodate a planned increase in police personnel. It was determined that a newly constructed building was the best solution to meet the needs of this growing town and its police department.

After garnering town support through a bond issue for the land purchase and new construction, the department was provided with an opportunity to incorporate elements of community policing directly into the physical design of its new building.

With funding from the COPS Office, the Milliken Police Department convened a multidisciplinary focus group to discuss what a community policing-friendly facility might look like. Facilitated by Colorado State University, the focus group included Milliken Police Department staff, town officials including the mayor and town administrator, Roth Sheppard Architects of Denver, COPS Office staff, and subject matter experts in community policing, CPTED (crime prevention through environmental design), architecture, and downtown redevelopment and technology. Together, the group worked toward incorporating a Community Oriented Policing Architecture and Environmental Design2 approach into the new building design, validating design ideas already on the table and brainstorming new ones. The group discussed how various physical aspects of the new police facility could be designed to support the primary community policing elements of partnerships, organizational transformation, and problem-solving, as described in the January 2008 Dispatch article, “Community Policing Defined.” The resulting ideas blended architectural practicality with community policing principles in the following ways: