by Josh Lanier
HUNTERSVILLE – Although voters will decide in November if the Huntersville Police Department gets its new headquarters, officials plan to move several staffers to a renovated nearby office.
The town is improving the former Webb & Allen Orthodontics, next door to the police station, to move members of the department in by early May, Police Chief Phil Potter said.
The town purchased the building in May 2010 for $325,000 to help with overcrowding until a new headquarters could be built. The orthodontists moved to a new building at 223 Gilead Road.
“This will give us an opportunity to provide a little more space for officers and civilian employees who are so cramped in,” Potter said. “This will also give us a little more storage space which is something we are needing badly.”
Officials are updating security measures, adding phone and Internet capabilities and buying furniture for the building. Those improvements will cost $26,700, Asst. Town Manager Gerry Vincent told commissioners in an email.
The move won’t affect the public. Anyone who needs to speak with an officer must still go to the reception desk at the current headquarters.
It’s the first big improvement for the overstuffed police department, where some officers share desks, and suspects are sometimes held in the hallway because the department has nowhere else for them to wait.
After years of discussion over placement and cost, the town board recently agreed to let residents vote on a bond referendum to build a new police station at the 32-acre Anchor Mill site on North Church Street. That new station would cost about $16 million to build.
The referendum goes to voters in this fall’s municipal election.
In other police news
Huntersville Patrol Bureau Capt. Randy Pennington will retire from the department at the end of the month. Pennington, a 32-year police veteran, joined the Huntersville department in 1996. Since then, he’s served as a patrol officer, field training officer, patrol lieutenant, criminal investigator and held additional command positions.
He began his law enforcement career at the Onslow County Sheriff’s Office.