Action vs. reaction: Let’s move forward on project

For more than 30 years, we’ve sat and watched as the Marshalltown Police Department building crumbles. We’ve repaired, remodeled and rearranged all while keeping flood waters and sewage backup at bay in the basement and hoping beyond hope the second floor does not collapse.

This is NOT a 21st Century police department designed for a growing, progressive community. Rather, IT IS an embarrassment and more importantly, a clarion call for change!

A tour of the current facility showcases just how dire the need is – space constraints, officers and staff stacked on top of each other; suspects and victims often in close proximity to each other because the one inadequate interview room is occupied; and a genuine lack of security.

Anyone who has toured the current police station surely would agree this is no way to operate a modern-day law enforcement facility.

The question, of course, remains as to the proposed location and design, the cost and whether or not every option has been considered.

As to location, well perhaps Sheriff Ted Kamatchus said it best: “NO DESIGN or NO LOCATION will receive 100 percent support. You CANNOT please everyone.”

Yes, to keep the facility downtown would be ideal, but with no room for growth and the real possibility that eminent domain would be part of the process, building elsewhere in the city limits is necessary.

And please don’t be swayed by the preliminary renderings that have been presented thus far. It’s just that – preliminary.

That being said, however, I certainly don’t have a problem with a police station looking nice. We are not talking about a “Taj Mahal” here. We’re asking for a facility that reflects something of real value and pride – something that represents our commitment to those who serve and protect Marshalltown every day.

As to the cost – look there’s no doubt we’re talking about a significant chunk of change. But how much money will it take to keep repairing the current facility into something that actually works for the MPD and the city as a whole? Aren’t we already beyond that point?

I realize the MPD is more than a building. It’s the people – the men and women who put their lives on the line for each and everyone of us who calls Marshalltown home – the same folks who we ask to go above and beyond the call of duty during times of crisis.

And yet, these same people are stuck in a facility that no longer functions and is a structural blight on our entire community.

In police tactical defense training, the mantra is: “Action, not reaction.” Don’t wait for the situation to get out of hand.

For way too long, we’ve sat idle in trying to craft solutions to the problem that is the current police facility. We cannot and should not continue to react to crumbling infrastructure concerns. Instead, let’s take action now and vote yes on May 5.


Jeff Hutton is managing editor of the Marshalltown Times-Republican.