Cities across the country are redefining the role of police facilities in creating environments that encourage collaborative public safety between officers and communities. In West Baltimore, the existing police station lacked in approachability, visibility, and accessibility, which discouraged community engagement. We saw the opportunity to create an updated space to promote positive, non-enforcement interactions between officers and citizens to foster healthy communications, mutual respect, and a shared sense of responsibility to protect the community.
We used a two-pronged approach focused on improving the visitor experience and the officer experience - starting at the front door. Visitor enhancements include public parking space and a welcoming reflection garden at the entrance of the station. Inside, we created new public bathrooms and community meeting spaces served as gathering places to encourage participation, provide information, and promote dialogue. For officers, we provided tools to help them efficiently carry out daily responsibilities and to boost morale. We updated police bathrooms, locker rooms, meeting spaces, and created a new and improved training facility – all items to increase physical and mental wellness and help recruit and retain the very best officers.
It began with renovated gyms at Northern and Southeastern District. Then, a group of local Baltimore business men discussed what more could be done to help rebuild relationships between officers and residents and Western District became the next stepping block. By creating places that are safe havens for community engagement, we can establish a culture of transparency and respect. Creating increased opportunities for engagement can create stronger relationships, healthier communities, and perhaps less need for enforcement.